The future of the regional architecture schools. Presentation of the 31st issue of Project Baltia


This issue of Project Baltia approaches the theme of ‘School’ from various angles. We look at the architecture of educational institutions, including schools, universities, and libraries. We also examine the question of architectural education. At the presentation in Helsinki we shall concentrate on the most complex aspect of this overall theme – the architecture schools of cities in the region.

In the Discussion section of our 31st issue Architectural critics Liutauras Nekrošius, Anna Vartola, Triin Ojari, Artis Zvirgzdiņš, Danil Ovcharenko, and Aleksandr Popadin reflect on the existence and state of respectively a Vilnius, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, St Petersburg, and Kaliningrad school of architecture.

During the presentation at Arkadia the discussion published in our magazine will be materialized in the form of a live discussion involving architecture critics Anni Vartola and Triin Ojari (director of the Museum of Estonian Architecture, Tallinn), Vladimir Frolov (Project Baltia, Editor-in-Chief, talking about St Petersburg), and architects from various schools and generations including Pekka Helin, Samuli Woolston (ALA architects), and Erkko Aarti (AOR). The moderator with be Elizaveta Parkkonen, architect at Helin & Co Architects.




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Venue: Arkadia Bookshop

Nervanderinkatu 11, Helsinki


About Project Baltia no. 31 (‘School’)

The 31st issue of Project Baltia draws readers’ attention once more to the topic of educational spaces. In 2009 we published an issue entitled ‘’ – about how architectural structures serving all kinds of different public functions are acquiring a kind of ‘educational extension’. Nine years later, the focus on the educational function has merely grown stronger: the projects published on the pages of the latest issue of Project Baltia are not merely for school and university buildings, but also for offices. Designers of today’s offices place considerable importance upon training sessions for employees, as is reflected in the layout and design of these spaces.

Theoretical texts and critiques by Sergey Sitar, Vladimir Frolov, Kseniya Litvineko, and Marina Nikiforova investigate the transformation of the educational environment under the influence of the edutainment format, and likewise under the impact of the ‘spirit of the age’ – which Sergey Sitar describes using the concept of ‘communicativism’. “I call ‘communicativism’ the currently prevailing ontological principle which assumes that everything that is reality in the most general sense is essentially information (or, as John Wheeler has succinctly put it, ‘it from bit’),” writes Sitar. “Supporters of informational ontology,” he goes on, “suppose that they have already successfully moved from the world of flesh into the Platonic ‘world of ideas’. In actual fact what we have here is often only an intensification or, so to speak, a ‘doubling’ of Plato’s Cave: the shadows on the wall of the Cave have organized their own ‘theatre of shadows’ – launching an endless production of shadows of the second, third order and so on. I imagine that this will continue until such a time as in the field of education a sufficiently radical paradigmatic shift takes place.” The presentiment of this shift remains for the moment nothing more than a presentiment, and the projects shown on the pages of this issue are more a sign that a certain critical mass of educational projects has built up; it is no coincidence that the leading type of building for higher education is the campus – a location for, above all, communication, a process which is essentially more important than educational processes in the familiar sense of the term. This tendency is illustrated by the campuses of Aalto University in Otaniemi (ALA’s reconstruction of the Dipoli building, designed by the renowned man and wife team, the Pietiläs), the Higher School of Management in Mikhaylovka (Studiya 44), and Arena in Tampere (LSV).

School buildings are exemplified in the present issue by projects by the Finnish firm Playa, the Lithuanian firm G. Natkevičius ir partneriai, and the Latvian firm 8 A.M. An essay by Gregor Taul deals with another important subject – the ‘percent for art’ strategy for introducing works of contemporary art into educational institutions, as demonstrated by schools and colleges in Estonia. The editors have also looked at professional education for architects, with a focus on three schools – the Faculty of Architecture at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, RISEBA (Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration), and the Association of Young Architects, a new workshop for children in St Petersburg.

Our Discussion section offers a new approach to our theme, looking at the phenomenon of local architectural schools in cities in our region. Architectural critics Liutauras Nekrošius, Anna Vartola, Triin Ojari, Artis Zvirgzdiņš, Danil Ovcharenko, and Aleksandr Popadin reflect on the existence and state of respectively a Vilnius, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, St Petersburg, and Kaliningrad school of architecture.

As always, Design Lab introduces our readers to five small works of architecture – this time, by K2S, Salto, Drozdov & Partners, A.I.D.E, and. Processoffice.

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Opening Week of the 5th Architecture Biennale will take place from September 11th – 15th, 2019 in multiple venues in the heart of Tallinn. Dedicated to the theme “Beauty Matters: The Resurgence of Beauty”, the international architecture festival, organised by the Estonian Centre for Architecture and curated by Dr. Yael Reisner, celebrates the aesthetic experience in architecture, after almost 80 years of cultural bias.

The only foreigner to take part in the series of architecture talks entitled ‘Genius loci’ (organized by Project Baltia and the ‘Novaya Gollandiya: cultural urbanization’ project) was the Finnish theoretician Juhani Pallasmaa. Russian readers know Pallasmaa from his book ‘The thinking hand. Existential and embodied wisdom in architecture’, which is now a bibliographical rarity. Here Marina Nikiforova talks to Finland’s principal architect-thinker.