EKA chief: Provincial towns need culturally valuable buildings too

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EKA chief and architecture historian Mart Kalm. Source: Kumu

Culturally important buildings need to be recognized in Estonia's second and third cities, Tartu and Narva, as much as they already are in the capital, one architecture expert says.

Mart Kalm, rector of the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA) and an architectural historian, told ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Thursday that the Tartu Art Museum (Tartu Kunstimuuseum) and the planned Kreenholm Manufaktuur (Kreenholm Manufacturing Company) in Narva are deserving of support, in order to halt a widening gap between Tallinn and other towns, within the cultural sphere.

Kalm said: "The difference between Tartu and Tallinn has never been as great as it is now. Tartu has a clear potential to be a city of 200,000 inhabitants (its current population is just under half that – ed.). 

To achieve this, it is necessary to improve Tartu city center, so that the objects that 'vacuum up' the center of Tartu, the Lõunakeskus type, do not turn Tartu such into such a parochial, provincial city."

Kalm was referring to one of several large, modern shopping malls in Estonia's second city and main university town. This has also been exacerbated, in his opinion, by the fact that the relatively new Estonian National Museum (ERM), while a nationally significant building, has been located in a wholly inappropriate spot.

"In my opinion, the ENM should definitely have been built on Lillemäe (in central Tartu) instead of this ugly 'courthouse', so that there would be another large Tartu building, next to the Vanemuine [Theater]."

Narva's Kreenholm Manufacturing Company has potential, but also sees disadvantages, Kalm said.

"It may be a little too big and at the same time Narva will not be built up in its wake. Plus there are many disadvantages," Kalm said, adding that another problem is that it is located on private land.

Nonetheless, the opportunity of building cultural bridges – Narva lies on the river of the same name, which in turn forms part of Estonia's eastern border – is one appealing point for Kreenholm.

The Kreenholm Manufacturing Company a textile manufacturing company located on the island of Kreenholm in the Narva river, and has in recent years been the site of some of the events of the Station Narva festival.

Of smaller projects, the Anu Raud center, near Viljandi, could also be earmarked for support, Kalm said.

Anu Raud is a textile artist whose collection of traditional handicraft is exhibited at Heimtali Museum.

"I don't see anyone else who approaches Estonian folk art with artistic quality, but on the other hand is able to maintain rural life in a good sense. I see potential there and in addition it is also a project in cooperation with the ERM," Kalm told the show.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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