Vabaduse väljak (Liberty Square), Tallinn
Questions and answers from Andres Alver, Veljo Kaasik and Tiit Trummal
Urban life changes. The meaning of squares changes as well. In the future, the commercial market square and political theatre stage become stages dedicated mainly to entertainment and (positive) emotions. This, of course, does not mean the ultimate disappearance of old meanings, however the points of emphasis obviously change.
The square is the junction in the urban fabric where one- (or two-) way movement is replaced by a significantly larger number of directions of movement, or in other words – the level of freedom increases. A sudden “spike” takes place in activity and, it is fair to say, in thinking as well. Things get even more interesting and even intriguing when the ordinary 2D world is replaced by the 3D world. All this has also been an essential starting point in the design of Liberty Square.
To what extent is the square a political decision and to what extent is it an architectural decision? Is the square architecture at all in its ordinary meaning for us?
It most likely involved decisions from both sides. Although the spatial urban design project for Liberty Square already existed almost 12 years ago, the will and recommendations of architects had no effect until at one point in time, actual political will came into being. This, true enough, did exist during some intervening moments as well, yet always disappeared due to some variety of political “horse trading”. The tragedy of the matter lies in the fact that ordinary politics is by nature “true to its era” and some architectural ideas geared to the future are not necessarily always understandable in the politics of the moment. Either a great trust in the creators of architectural vision or the existence of one or more politicians with a long-term vision of the future would help.
Since the idea of a square is to be a void, it is difficult to describe, grasp or photograph. A square is defined by its borders, its edges – strictly speaking, the place where it comes into contact with the ordinary city. A simple square between buildings is indeed described by the buildings that surround it or by views that converge as rays. Liberty Square – a system that is one step more complicated by virtue of the context – no longer has very clear boundaries, they are diffuse. In order for space to be perceptible, its edges are marked by various architectural elements – tall lampposts, a coloured glass wall, massive barriers…Yet they are semi-transparent, making it possible to be in several different spaces simultaneously.
What kind of place is this Liberty Square anyway?
As a legacy of the Middle Ages, Tallinn is a fortress city surrounded by a wall. Limestone has been the building material used, similarly to Visby. Yet unlike Visby, which was and remained a provincial, museum-like town, Tallinn became an industrial city