Photo: Evert Palmets
The 5th edition of Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB 2019) www.tab.ee, organised by the Estonian Centre for Architecture and curated by London-based architect Dr. Yael Reisner, has closed its Opening Week (September 11th – 15th, 2019) having welcomed a new record of circa 2.000 visitors from more than 25 countries, spanning from Europe to Australia, from the USA to Japan, from Canada to Mexico.
Dedicated to the provocative theme Beauty Matters, this promising edition of the international architecture festival, which continues until November 17th, 2019 celebrates the aesthetic experience in architecture, after almost 80 years of cultural bias.
The Official Programme consists of five main events: A Curatorial Exhibition, a Symposium, a Vision Competition Exhibition, an Installation Programme, and an International Architecture Schools’ Exhibition. In parallel, these events have been enriched by a Satellite Programme, comprising of 20 collateral activities and events – exhibitions, lectures, installations and architectural film screenings all over the city; and by TAB Club, an information hub and a meeting place at Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel).
Held in the Great Hall of the Rotermann Salt Storage, now housing the Museum of Estonian Architecture, the Curatorial Exhibition Beauty Matters, aims to elevate the status of beauty in response to alienating and ecologically unfit built environments.
“Aspiring to beauty is aiming at depth — the true challenge in architecture, as it is in poetry, neurobiology, mathematics, or politics. The eight architects, two Estonian and six from around the world, who were invited to contribute to the Curatorial Exhibition were challenged to design a project that is both local to Tallinn and global; a conduit for the emotional experience of beauty in an urban context”, asserts the Head Curator.
Designed exclusively for the exhibition, the projects focus on the main topic through the lens of habitation: The Open Cave by Sou Fujimoto Architects (JP); Augmented Nature by Elena Manferdini (USA); The Venn Room by Space Popular (UK); Tick by KTA (EST); Beauty-Ful(l) Life by Kadri Kerge (EST, USA); Temporal Environment by soma (AT); TRANSOCCUPATION by March studio (AU); and Growing Cities by Barnaby Gunning Studio & Yael Reisner Studio (UK).
The eight large-scale spatial installations together form a Street in the museum’s main exhibition space, where each is a segment of a habitation project, part of it or a hybrid of parts, capturing its essence. The installations are also presented via large screen projections, at mezzanine level above. The street is accessible through a woodland of local birch trees, a necessary injection of nature to any urban landscape. On one of the Street’s back sidewalks, visitors find the virtual reality experience The Talking Trees of Tallinn. At the end, a large Arne Maasik photograph wraps the Street back to a birch tree woodland.
In the first-floor foyer, an exhibition of the models created by the 12 finalists of the Installation Programme Competition Huts and Habitats preludes the main Curatorial Exhibition, whilst the winning installation Steampunk by Gwyllim Jahn, Cameron Newnham (Fologram, AU), Soomeen Hahm Design (UK), Igor Pantic (UK), Format Engineers (UK) stands fiercely on top of a small mound outside the museum. The timber installation gives the topics raised during TAB a prominent visual manifestation in the cityscape and will remain in place until the next edition in 2021.
Recognising that beauty cannot be reduced to simple concepts, the Head Curator treats it as a plurality with the two-day Symposium — Beauty Matters. Just Like Love, It’s Real, which takes place in the unique industrial setting of Tallinn Creative Hub Kultuurikatel.
The Symposium’s 17 speakers have formed different interdisciplinary panels to discuss why beauty matters today and to reflect on new buds of beauty in architecture. In addition to the eight Beauty Matters exhibitors, the list of guests include the philosopher Graham Harman (USA), the poetess Maria Lee (EST), the mathematician Ron Aharoni (IL), the researcher Taylor Enoch (UK), the DJs and audio-visual artists Jakob and Nathan Tulve (EST), the architectural designer Paula Strunden (NL), and ABB Automation & Grid Technologies, Research Department Manager Dr. Kim Listmann (DE), among others.
The Biennale offers a platform for the discussion of complex topics at different levels — using technical language at the Symposium or in a more accessible way at the Vision Competition Exhibition entitled New Habitats, New Beauties: Speculations for Tallinn. Hailing from all over the globe, participants were asked to design a new neighbourhood in Kopli, a rapidly transforming area just outside Tallinn’s city centre.
Finally, Terribly Beautiful is the title chosen for the International Architecture Schools’ Exhibition, which includes works by the most prestigious academic institutions worldwide. Hosted at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA), it is attracting a high attendance of foreign visitors.
During the Opening Week, TAB 2019 successfully acted as a trigger, encouraging architects to experiment within the unusual Estonian context, refreshing the local scene with international guests and engaging the public in a wide array of topical professional debates.
The event was made possible thanks to the collaboration with the Headline Partner ABB. Katrin Förster, International Key Account Manager for ABB Architects and Interior Designers, comments: “Dr. Yael Reisner approached me last November and asked if we could consider getting involved at TAB. When contacting my colleagues in Tallinn it became instantly clear: Yes! I think it was a very successful event and there is much follow-up to do to foster the synergies created during the event.”
TAB 2019 Headline Partner is ABB.
ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader with a comprehensive portfolio for digital industries. With a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB is a pacesetter in digital industries with its four customer-focused, globally leading businesses: Electrification, Industrial Automation, Motion, and Robotics & Discrete Automation, supported by its common ABB AbilityTM digital platform. ABB operates in more than 100 countries and has around 147,000 employees.