Researcher: Mustamäe is brightest jewel of our urban planning

Apartment building in Tallinn's Mustamäe District.
Apartment building in Tallinn's Mustamäe District. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Tallinn's Mustamäe district is one of Estonia's best examples of modernist urban planning and essentially already fits the 15-minute city concept, an architecture researcher says.

TV show "Ringvaade" explored the area and its history on Tuesday's show along with guide Denis Jatsenko.

Mustamäe is one of the smallest districts of Tallinn, but also one of the most populated with over 60,000 inhabitants. It was constructed between 1962-1973.

In the past, sprawling farmland and manor houses were all that could be found in the district. Produce grown on the farms was taken to markets in Tallinn.

"What Tallinners ate a hundred years ago often came from where the apartment blocks of Mustamäe now stand," Jatsenko said.

In the 1960s, a state farm with greenhouses was located where the Mustika keskus shopping center is currently situated. Tallinners could buy fresh vegetables and they were also taken to many cafes and restaurants. 

"The legendary Kännu Kukk restaurant and the Szolnok cafe were here, which were important places for many locals," Jatsenko said.

Mustamäe Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Architectural researcher Karin Paulus said Mustamäe is an exciting place. 

"Mustamäe is the brightest jewel of our modernist architecture and urban planning because it is so holistically designed," she said and added the modern 15-minute city concept has essentially already been developed in the district. 

"There are kindergartens and schools, in fact, higher education is close by," she said.

Paulus said the architecture is clean in style, although in recent years some apartment block walls have been covered with new insulation or painted in brighter colors.

"In reality, they represent typical projects of that time, which were architecturally very handsome," she said.

Nowadays, Mustamäe combines the old and the new. One attraction is the Kaja kultuurikeskus and the recently completed Mustamäe High School. 

"In reality, they represent the typical projects of the time, which were architecturally very attractive," Paulus told the show.


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Editor: Rasmus Kuningas, Helen Wright

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