About

The internationally known Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen designed one of the most beautiful buildings in the centre of Tallinn. The so-called Saarinen House was erected in 1912, for a bank called in Estonian Krediidipank. In addition to commercial spaces it contained apartments in the upper floors, which have housed important personalities of Estonian political and cultural scene. When designing the building, Saarinen took into consideration a possible future use as a department store.

The building represents late Nordic Jugendstil. It is also one of the earliest reinforced concrete buildings in Estonia. Concrete structures have been used in the basement and the floors as well as in the load-bearing columns.

The ground floor façade is built of Finnish granite and has large shop windows. In the middle of the main façade there is an opening with handsome stairs leading from the street up to the first floor and the entrance. The building has a beautiful inner courtyard with Egyptian-inspired granite columns, and the walls of the open staircase are adorned with colourful ornaments. Originally there were two six-room-apartments, three with four and three with two rooms. Technically, the building was as modern as it was possible at the time.

The open staircase and some of the interiors as well as the inner courtyard and its ramps can still be experienced as genuine Saarinen spaces. The building now houses the Estonian Ministry of Culture with a bookstore and fashion shops on street level.

Text: Tarja Nurmi

Location

Pärnu maantee 10, Tallinn
59.43501, 24.747928

Images

Photo from 2017, Saarinen House
Photo from 2017, Saarinen House (© Tarja Nurmi)
Photo from 2009, Saarinen House
Photo from 2009, Saarinen House (© Museum of Estonian Architecture )
Photo from 1996, Saarinen House
Photo from 1996, Saarinen House (© Museum of Estonian Architecture )
Postcard from the 1920s, Saarinen House
Postcard from the 1920s, Saarinen House (© Museum of Estonian Architecture )
Entrance stairs in 1998, Saarinen House
Entrance stairs in 1998, Saarinen House (© Museum of Estonian Architecture )
Detail of entrance decoration, Saarinen House
Detail of entrance decoration, Saarinen House (© Museum of Estonian Architecture )
Inner courtyard in 2009, Saarinen House
Inner courtyard in 2009, Saarinen House (© Museum of Estonian Architecture )