“Tourist” Shop

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State Design Institute Eesti Projekt

Project team

Peep Jänes


Tartu maantee 17, 10117 Tallinn


3,061.5 m2


Completed, 1982


Martin Siplane, Ott Alver




Commercial, Retail premises

This mysterious-looking building represents a peculiarly Soviet typology, having been built as a shop for foreign tourists and off limits to locals. This accounts for its completely introverted appeal due to its closed form and dark bricks, as well as the quality of construction resulting from the use of a Finnish construction enterprise.

The building with its original interior design and the rounded exterior also bears some influences of the Finnish master Alvar Aalto. The fan-shaped three-floor building housed a retail hall extending through all levels and crowned by a gold-colored ceiling. The retail is extended to the balconies and the two upper floors also had an art gallery with a small bar.

Since Estonian re-independence, it has served as a bank, a shop and a succession of nightclubs. However, in spite of being a highly original testament to a specific architectural heritage, it is legally impossible to prevent substantial future reconstruction or demolition. The building was briefly taken under heritage protection, but this decision was overruled in court due to neglected technicalities during the process of declaring it an architectural monument. Since then, the city has launched the process of drawing up a new detail plan and the building is expected to be replaced by a high rise in the near future.