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Ferrum Centre in Saaremaa in Kuressaare

INGRID LILLEMÄGI

23.07.2003

Architect: Alver Trummal Authors: Andres Alver, Tiit Trummal, Tarmo Laht, Indrek Rünkla, Ulla Mets
Structural design: Jaak Juha (Tööstusprojekt)
Design: 2001
Completed: 2002

Alver Trummal Architects are every so often able to design buildings that raise conflicting opinions among people. In any case, they do not leave anybody impartial; they stand on the site and require a stance to be taken. In the beginning Kuressaare's department store and office building "Ferrum" designed by Alver Trummal Architects appeared quite foreign to the somewhat conservative people of Saaremaa. The compact building with a closed-up appearance at first sight and high dominating rusty metal roof earned several nicknames from the locals. Yet a huge crowd of people was present at the opening and little by little the newcomer on the edge of Kuressaare's main square has been accepted. Is it too poetic to see something true Saaremaa-like in the befriending process between "Ferrum" and the locals - conservatism, self-confidence and suspicion mixed with alert curiosity towards the alien from the continent?

In reality "Ferrum" talks about very archetypal things in a contemporary language. Looking for forms characteristic to Saaremaa, it's also a play with clear and may-be even canonised identity - the initial standpoint would have been much hazier and more questionable if the intent had been to synthesise a contemporary form with something characteristic to Raplamaa for example or any other region. In that sense outlining the intent the way it was done in Kuressaare is somewhat simpler and at the same time may-be more expected. The "Ferrum" building responds to the context in more comprehensive and abstract ways but occasionally in a very particular way - in terms of their form and tone the heights of the building, especially the roof lines are very carefully set into dialogue with the mansard roof of the neighbouring baroque fire station. In places the time of Alver-Trummal forming as architects glows through. A parallel with the De La Gardie department store arises easily, where the same problems of suitability to the context and rigid understanding of suitable and proper are present. In both cases the design solution is strong character and rather powerful form, where specific details remind of the roots of the authors' thinking. Talking about Kenneth Frampton's theory of critical regionalism today might seem old-fashioned but in terms of Kuressaare's "Ferrum" this seems to be the most appropriate ideology. In other words it means critical interpretation of the local building tradition and identity and synthesising it into quality form without using pseudo historic methods.
While walking in the interior of "Ferrum" - clean concrete surfaces, no parallel walls, dispersed light from the

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