FOMA 39: Olympic Infrastructure In Tallinn
Tallinn marks its 40th anniversary of the Pirita Sailing Regatta, one of the official events of 1980 Summer Olympics. Thanks to this significant sporting event, extraordinary developments took place in the city’s urban planning and construction during 1976-1980.
The political context of the Olympic facilities was undoubtedly amplified by the fact that in 1979 the USSR invaded Afghanistan, in protest of which 66 countries boycotted the Olympic Games. As a result, the maximum potential of many completed construction projects in receiving visitors was not used. There will be a talk about several buildings, among them the airport terminal, hotel Olümpia, Linnahall, Pirita Sailing Centre and the TV tower.
Tallinn Olympic Yachting Centre (TOP) was opened in 1980 as a powerful late-modern complex, with its symmetrically composed main buildings for the functions required to host a sailing regatta. The original architectural idea was proposed by the young architects Avo-Himm Looveer, Kristin Looveer, Tiit Kaljundi, Leonhard Lapin and Harry Šein. The final design was performed by architects Henno Sepman, Peep Jänes, Ants Raid and Avo-Himm Looveer.
The building materials of the load-bearing structures are brick, reinforced concrete and metal. It is a massive horizontal building with an interesting futuristic-looking middle part. It looks more like a machine than a building. Currently, the building is not in the best condition, but it is under protection as architectural heritage of Estonia.
The hotel Olümpia, located in Tallinn’s city centre, was opened on April 6th, 1980. The building with a reinforced concrete structure has 28 floors and it is 84 m high. Originally, the hotel had 405 rooms, a restaurant and bars.
Between the sea and the old town stands a huge monumental building, originally called Lenin’s Palace of Culture and Sports, nowadays known as Linnahall. The building was opened on July 19th 1980 and was initially not designed as an Olympic facility. However, it was decided that the building should be completed for hosting Olympic related events. With the limestone facade the building matches the architecture of the nearby old town.
Linnahall has won several architectural awards and is included in the list of national cultural heritage. The architectural feature of the building last gained international recognition in 2019, when director Cristopher Nolan used it for his film Tenet. Due to the poor technical condition, the Linnahall has been closed, and the future of the building is unclear.
Tallinn TV Tower is located a few kilometres away from the city centre in Pirita suburb. Designed by architects David Bassiladze, Juri Sinis and engineered by Jevgeni Ignatov, the 312 m high TV tower was opened on July 11th 1980, and it is still one of the highest structures in Estonia.
It has a 190 m of the reinforced concrete body which supports 124-metre metal antenna on top of it. The renovated building is opened for public since 2017 and hosts a viewing platform and a restaurant on the on 21st and 22nd floor (170 m).
The last FOMA is the Tallinn airport, located 4 km from the city centre near lake Ülemiste. The terminal building that is still used today was open in 1980 for visitors of Olympic games. It’s designed by Mihhail Piskov who used traditional Estonian house barns as a source of inspiration.
The building’s original interior designer was Maile Grünberg. In 2008 the renovated and the enlarged terminal was fully re-opened to the public and named after President of Estonia Lennart Meri.