Building of Dwelling Houses in Estonia
Not wanting to analyze the building of dwelling houses in Estonia inefficiently
and seemingly scientifically (where would I have got competent statistics from),
I simply try to express the thoughts which are connected with that topics
somehow and have come into my mind. What kind of “scientific” analysis it could
be or who should make it, if even the architectural critics seem not to manage
with the simplest things. That reminds me an article in the EE some time ago
about a Finnish lady (naturally in Finland) completing or taking her doctor’s
degree. She was examining Finnish post-war modern house, it’s morphology, the
structure of the Finnish family, the connections between them and making
conclusions which extend to this day. Those observations about architecture were
much more smarter than those that the most of self-confident architects could do.
Unfortunately it has to be confessed that I don’t remember such a research work
or sentiments in Estonian science, but no doubt, they could be necessary. The
typology of the houses used by most of the architects goes back to the living
model of the middle class at the end of the 19th century. That model was
idealized and carried on through a hundred of years up to the end of this
century. No doubt that our living style is changing repeating banalities:
paradigm changes as well as the composition and make-up of the family. There
was a news in a newspaper about Estonia which declared that 50 % of the children
are illegitimate (it is possible, of course, that some parents live together
without getting married officially) and 12,5 % of the born children know nothing
about their fathers. The living with grandparents is not so popular any more.
(As to the models of living it is worth of observing what has happened in North-
America though some europercentage followers don’t accept that it may happen
that we will be on the same development level soon. In that country the grown-up
children don’t want to live with their fathers and mothers, at least
statistically). Even such an every day activity as cooking is changing
essentially. An apartment or house is not a small production unit with its
storages, kitchen and dining room any more. The kitchen can be as presentable as
the dining room, also the furniture and the quality of the activities, they can
become more melted. There are some theorists who admit that not only eating but
washing procedures as well will leave the house to so-called town-social level.
In the house there will be only a bed, a computer for communication and toilet.
It won’t happen so soon, but one has to keep an eye on that branch of
development. Talking into account the above mentioned statements it seems rather
logical that the present day “style of living” which is monofunctionally divided
into the units, should be replaced by a multifunctional and more universal room.
The architects can make their conclusions if they want to. The society is coming
more and more complicated, more individual-centered / individualized and that
ought to be reflected in the typological and functional development of the house
/ apartment. The situation in Estonia is a bit curious just now perhaps even
ridiculous. On the one hand we have been left a huge amount of apartments
living units, on the other hand these don’t satisfy the real needs of the
society any more. The problem doesn’t lie in the apartment or house, but in that
complete, and if you wish, harmonious world where these houses are situated. And
that is why it is very difficult to prevent Lasnamae from turning to a ghetto.
The houses can be heated outside and apartments decorated inside, but it gives
satisfaction for a short time only. The single coquettish villages built in the
old districts between the houses look strange. The dissonance doesn’t exist
between the houses themselves but between the styles of living. The groups of 5
– 10 houses in the picturesque landscape at the seaside also can’t create the
complete society if they are situated next to the fishery and sawmills. There
are some districts in Estonia where the small houses with more complete
treatment have come into being. The suburb romantic idyll is ruling there, also
mentally as the motto of the area is to be similar and alike, with no any
differences from the thoughts of dear neighbors. Those so-called new-rich who
have enough money to build need the house as the symbol of status and they
actually don’t value the environment.
I would like to pay attention to the matter that has annoyed me for some time. I
can’t understand these critics who treat the houses on the steep banks of
Tabasalu with irony, calling them bad PM and admitting that the functionality
with stylistics originating from the 20ies is not so much PM, and a better one.
Of course, that is the question of taste. But if we don’t think the stylistics
to be the most important and do not throw away inevitably everything “American”;
then to be honest, those houses purely morphologically are composed very
nicely if compared with sisters built somewhere else. The main trouble in that
area results in so-called planning, or if you wish town building.
Unfortunately it seems that it is not yet the right time to discuss that
complicating matter in Estonia. Mainly the highway engineers are handling these
problems and town building as the complex of cultural decisions hasn’t been
discussed. Actually there is a disagreement between the frequency and character
of the houses that is where to look for main mistakes. But behind that are the
desires of the customers, difficulties in getting the ownership of land,
stereotype thinking of the planning architect our cultural background
altogether. If to think about the future, keeping an eye on the same cultural
background, I have to say that the Estonians, if to express decently, are not
too keen to fight the challenge of age (by the way, an excellent opportunity for
the apologists of modernism) and taking use of that characteristics at least
younger architects could accept the possibilities offered by present time.
Certainly not everybody likes these possibilities and only a few real estate
agents will be interested, but according to my own experience there are some of
them, in Estonia too.
It is also important that looking at the things otherwise and spreading that
vision we can reach the situation where the words “cheap” and “ecological” have
great value. And considering our relatively poverty it is not a bad result at