Cultural Endowment of Estonia in architecture / annual award 2021 nominee
Exhibition design: Estonian Association of Interior Architects / annual award 2021 nominee
Location
Museum of Estonian Architecture, Ahtri 2, Tallinn
Exhibition design
Eva Kedelauk, Kristel Niisuke (NIKITA ATIKIN)
Curator
Jarmo Kauge
Graphic design
Margus Tamm
Builder
BART.EE
Exhibition in Estonian Museum of Architecture
11.06-21.11.2021
Photos
Evert Palmets

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Looking at how utopias have been depicted over history, one thing that stands out is that they are isolated, cut off from the rest of the world. For instance, Thomas More depicts utopia as an island, while Buckminster Fuller places a glass dome over Manhattan. Since The Houses We Need conjures up visions of future utopias and dystopias, the architects had the idea to design the exhibition space using a room-in-room principle.

Yet it cannot be said that (anti-)utopias would be completely independent of the real world – it’s more like there is a certain reality shift. Thus, it was decided to retain references made by the exhibition space to the surroundings. A PVC trapezoid structure gives an indication of what lies beyond, and the exhibition venue’s ceiling has been left open as well, allowing a glimpse of the top-floor exhibition hall through it. From the latter, it is possible to observe goings-on down below like a world in a glass display window.

The spatial shift makes it out of sync with time, in a certain sense. First of all, visitors who enter the hall find themselves in front of a translucent PVC screen, while the exhibit items can only be faintly be made out behind it. To access the exhibition, one has to walk in limbo between the limestone wall and the screen to the other end of the space. A certain shift in time takes place en route from the entrance, ushering in a future-themed exhibition.

The architects tried to avoid making moral judgments. The choice of material was based on the concept of creating a uniform three-dimensional backdrop for the whole exhibition, which would be suitable for the floor and the vertical surfaces stemming from the floor. It was also important that the material could be re-used again later on. The façade panel modules, installed with accentuated joint spacing, create a “space odyssey” landscape.