Heritage Board surprised by Tallinn's plan for Linnahall area

Marilin Mihkelson.
Marilin Mihkelson. Source: Estonian Ministry of Culture

Linnahall cannot simply be demolished as it is under heritage protection, said Marilin Mihkelson, director general of the Heritage Protection Board (Muinsuskaitseamet) on Friday.

Mihkelson said she found out about Tallinn's plan to initiate a discussion about the redevelopment of the Linnahall area via the media when the council put out a press release.

Tallinn said demolishing the structure, built for the USSR's Olympics in 1980, is not ruled out.

"Yesterday's event came as a surprise to us in the sense that the heritage authority has not been involved in the preparation of the vision. And we were also surprised by the solution that was put on the table because Linnahall as such was no longer in the picture," Mihkelson told Vikerradio's "Uudis+" program.

The official said the solution proposed by the council needs more in-depth investigation and the agency expects more detailed information from the city.

Linnahall Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Mihkelson emphasized that Linnahall is currently protected as a national monument and the agency's position has not changed.

"It is a star of Estonian 20th-century architecture and has been a cultural monument since 1999. And it has significant cultural and urban significance for us. I think everyone can agree on that," she said.

In order to demolish the structure, which is usually closed to the public and somewhat dilapidated, protection would need to be removed.

"We have heard arguments that the building is in such a bad state that it makes no sense to rebuild it, and that for that reason it should be demolished. But the justification that it is in a poor state of repair is not a basis for removing the building's status as a listed building and removing it's protection," she said.

Mihkelson said that it is true that Linnahall is in a rather bad condition today, but that does not mean that the building should necessarily be demolished in order to revive the area.

Tallinn's vision for the Linnahall area redevelopment. Source: Tallinna linnavalitsus

"As far as I know the structural condition of the building is still satisfactory. And more time-critical attention needs to be paid to the leaky roof and the deteriorated exterior details. But this is neither a basis nor a sufficient justification for the termination of national protection. So for now, I would likely say no," she said.

At the same time, the official said the possible removal of protection is never just a bureaucratic decision, but is also discretionary.

"Considering the complexity of the City Hall as an object and its condition, these are arguments that we will certainly have to take into account in the case of this application, should such an application come from the city. So that it is not a kind of counting up of points, one-two-three and then a decision either way."

Mihkleson emphasized that it would be reasonable to start a dialogue between the city and the Heritage Protection Board and try to understand the positions.

"Also to get an idea of the real state of Linnahall today. Whether there is any way to bring it back to life. And then, step by step, to take action and hopefully we will find a solution here," she said.

Tallinn Linnahall (1980), Raine Karp, Riina Altmäe. Source: Arhitektuurimuuseum


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Editor: Urmet Kook, Helen Wright

Source: Vikerradio Uudis+

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