Cracks appearing in walls as noted Tallinn art building subsides

Tallinna Kunstihoone (Tallinn Art Hall) in Vabaduse Väljak.
Tallinna Kunstihoone (Tallinn Art Hall) in Vabaduse Väljak. Source: Karel Koplimets

A building of cultural significance in central Tallinn which had been due for renovation on the state culture budget, a project now put on the back-burner due to rising construction costs, was the subject of a segment on Wednesday's 'Aktuaalne kaamera'.

The building, the Tallinn Art Hall Gallery (Tallinna Kunstihoone), located on Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak) may look spruce from the outside but, partly because it is located above a subterranean stream, is starting to subside, leaving gaping cracks in the brickwork.

Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Madle Lippus (SDE) says that while restoration always brings new surprises, the Tallinn Art Building is particularly challenging: "Since it is built on top of a stream, which is the major issue with this building, it has partly subsided. No one can predict exactly what will happen here."

Construction costs must wait at least until the 2024 state budget; rising construction prices, inflation as a whole and the changed security situation meant that it and other cultural objects did not make it on to next year's budget bill issued by the government at the end of last month.

The project had initially been estimated at €6.5 million but this has been revised upwards to €10 million.

Gallery director Paul Aguraiuja told AK that the lower part of the building has become so detached from the upper part, that in some places a human hand fits in the ensuing crevices, while the ageing heating system, installed in the 1930s during the period of the First Estonian Republic, leaks around 100 liters of water per day – meaning that notwithstanding soaring energy prices, the heating must be switched off this winter in any case.

The main issue is keeping the house standing through winter, Augraiuja added, noting that the building's gas supply will also be cut off.

Hope is at hand, however. Tallinn city government has drawn up special heritage protection conditions for the building, while students attending classes in the building have been relocated to the neighboring music school managed by the state.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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