Has everything been sold? Residence, Kaupmehe st, Tallinn
Architect: Arhitektuuribüroo JVR
Author: Kalle Vellevoog, Velle Kadalipp
Structural design: Aime Kann (EstKONSULT)
Total floor area:12000 m2
Number of apartments:113
I was moved to discuss architectural style by the newest trend in Estonian residential construction—nearly always white and white throughout, simple, pure and economical. The construction boom is producing many of these houses, which at first glance seem look-alikes. Most of them are not innovative or intriguing, but rather imitate and repeat devices used in functionalism, which has a good repute. In the case of residences, often there is nothing happening in terms of a space being created—instead what we have here is the practical side of “honestly” reflecting the technology of constructing residences in a modernist spirit. Why are the newest houses like this?
In 1926, Le Corbusier formulated the principles of contemporary architecture—a building mass raised off the ground, freedom of layout achieved by separating the frame of the building from interior walls, the faēade formed by repeating the layout vertically, narrow rectangular windows, and recreating on the roof the contour of the ground displaced by the structure. In this definition of modernistic architecture prevalent in the 20th century, Corbu distinguishes new architecture from the old and expresses architecture’s new aims and interests. But modernism has many faces and actions. Ideologically, modernist architecture lacked a style of its own and tended to define itself as astylistic, by reflecting modern technology and the function of remaining abstract, yet it still became an identifiable style in time. Defining and interpreting modernism through postmodernist, late modernist and neomodernist terms updates the definition of modernism continuously. Even neoclassicist architecture can be viewed in functionalist terms. Modern architecture’s ideology of remaining abstract can be interwoven ad infinitum with as-yet untitled phenomena. Flowing, naturalist treatment of space as well as functionalist minimalism could be filed under modernist ideology as well.
For example, Mike Grimshaw’s “soft modernism” is one of many attempts to describe new phenomena by creating a continuous connection. Philosophers of religion and architecture aficionados write of the new architecture as soft modernism: “To attempt to understand the rise of soft modernism we perhaps need to think in terms of a Hegelian dialectic where modernity is the thesis, postmodernism its antithesis and soft modernism its synthesis – perhaps. For what is happening is a modernism without theory, without context, that exists as style alone. The reference point for this soft modernism is not some future utopia, nor some computer age futurism but rather a retreat from modernist progress in the fetishization of a retro modernism. Authenticity becomes a commodity of the simulacra. We have finally reached the Benjaminesque apotheosis: the pre-postmodern