Patarei, an imposing building directly along the seaside, was originally Tallinn’s main marine fortification, built according to 1820’s general defense plans inspired by Prussian defense systems. The complex was meant to hold 2,000 people and consisted of a curved gorge building, a lunette with living spaces for the officers, an infirmary and soldiers’ barracks, and a caponier (cannon house).
During the Estonian War of Independence (1919-20) the building was converted into a prison and served as such until 2005. Since then, Patarei has been the subject of numerous redevelopment plans, planning competitions and work- shops. The most serious of these, albeit dropped, was perhaps an idea for it to accommodate the Estonian Academy of Arts. Currently, the building is open as a museum with cultural events and parties organized in the courtyard and along the seafront in summer.
In 2019 the complex was sold to the US Invest group whose aim is to redevelop it into multi-faceted environment with offices, apartments, retail and entertainment premises. The main design partner for the redevelopment project will be the Tallinn based Ahitekt 11 architectural office. The invited competition for designing the courtyards, glass canopies and the outdoor areas was won by HG Arhitektuur in 2020. With their entry architects wanted to find new meaning and opportunities in the historic building and to create a harmonious environment. HGA will start designing the courtyards and outdoor areas of the sea fortress in cooperation with the chief designer of the sea fortress Arhitekt 11 and the redevelopment is planned to be completed in 2026.
The fortress also includes an exhibition area “Communism is a Prison”, which introduces the ideology and crimes of communism and the history of the building. The exhibition area covers nearly 1,200 square meters in the eastern wing of the prison.