Location next to Admiralty Inlet could be suitable for opera house

The Estonian Association of Architects says the northwestern side of the Admiralty Inlet in Tallinn's port area could also be a potential location for a new opera house and says that consideration should be given to both options.

In 2018, the Estonian National Opera commissioned an analysis from the Estonian Association of Architects to find a location for the new opera house. The analysis looked at 11 locations within the limits of the city districts of Central Tallinn and North Tallinn. As a result of the process, two locations were shortlisted, the first was the unbuilt area next to the Admiralty Inlet, and the second was Linnahall, president of the association Katrin Koov said in a letter to Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas.

"An earlier analysis, conducted in 2010, also deemed the location next to the Admiralty Inlet as the best location. The workgroup of 2018 found that it is the best location for a landmark public building also now, first and foremost due to its connectedness with the surrounding urban space and good observability," Koov said.

According to Koov, the workgroup listed Linnahall, an established landmark that dominants the urban space and is well accessible both by foot and public transport, as an alternative of equal worth.

"For Linnahall several project designs have been drawn up over time which have proved, in one manner or another, that it is possible to adapt it for new functions, including an opera house," she said.

However, the restoration of an existing building will not bring with it as big a positive change in the urban space as is entailed in the construction of a new building. Also, achieving the spatial proportions and acoustics necessary for an opera house in a hall designed mainly for speaking events and concerts with amplified sound will be very difficult, according to the association. 

In their appeal to the Minister of Culture, the association proposes to find out about the precise heritage conservation related restrictions valid for both sites, hold negotiations with the owners, conclude a cooperation agreement and stage an international architecture competition. 

The workgroup was made up of Aivar Mäe and Vello Ojamäe from the Estonian National Opera, Indrek Rünkla from the Ministry of Culture, Endrik Mänd from the City of Tallinn Urban Planning Department, Katrin Koov, Siiri Vallner, Peeter Pere, Andres Alver and Indrek Allmann from the Estonian Association of Architects, and Piret Üts from the port company Tallinna Sadam.

The Estonian government at its Cabinet sitting last Thursday was scheduled to discuss whether to give the Linnahall arena in Tallinn the function of an opera theater in addition to that of an international conference center. However, the discussion had to be postponed as Prime Minister Jüri Ratas was in Brussels at the time.

Director general of the Estonian National Opera, Aivar Mäe, said in early October the funding for establishing an opera theater in Linnahall could partially come from the Cultural Endowment.

In accordance with the national budget strategy for 2020-2023, the government decided as part of a plan to develop Tallinn as a destination of conference tourism to invest €40 million in the reconstruction of Linnahall into a multipurpose culture and conference center.

The government is planning to invest €20 million into Linnahall's reconstruction both in 2021 and 2022, it appears from the state budget strategy for 2020-2023. No money has been earmarked for Linnahall in next year's state budget as authorization from the European Commission to grant state aid has not yet been received.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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