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