1930’s Tenement Houses on Salme and Kalevi streets

View Guided Tours

Photos

Ott Alver, Martin Siplane

Typology

Historical, Residential

Tags

Residential, Refurbished, Kalamaja, Tallinn, Wooden construction

There are more than 500 so-called Tallinn-type houses from the second half of the 1930’s in the city. This is a certain type of wooden house with a symmetrical facade, a stone staircase in the centre, high limestone or rendered plinth, and two storeys with an attic. Meant for workers and lesser intelligentsia, the houses are a local equivalent to Euro- pean cities’ rental blocks. The formal solution was equally determined at the time of construction by an economic recession and the decline of timber prices, coinciding with new fire­safety regulations that demanded a stone or brick staircase. Their appearance expresses the aesthetic ideals of 1930’s middle class – designed by engineers and master builders, the buildings feature details harking back to late Art Nouveau and historicism. Inside, one finds apartments with two­ to three small rooms and very basic conveniences. Yet with their orderly yards and sometimes elaborate facades, the Tallinn-type houses were an upgrade from the slum environment, and render these streets a distinct 1930’s atmosphere.