Baltic Crossings: Soviet Housing Estates and Dreams of Forest-Suburbs

Laura Berger, Sampo Ruoppila, Kristo Vesikansa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

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Finland and Estonia had unusually close connections for a Western and a Soviet state follow-ing the Khrushchev Thaw. This chapter addresses the question of how Finnish architecture and planning influenced the development of multifamily housing, including large housing estates, in Soviet Estonia. The chapter shows how information on architecture and planning was exchanged through travel, professional publications, architecture exhibitions, and per-sonal contacts. However, inspiration drawn from Finnish examples could influence Soviet Es-tonian multifamily housing only selectively. The influences, mainly references to Finnish modernism from the 1950s and the 1960s, can be identified solely in individually designed and constructed housing projects, which offered more flexibility and room for individual ar-chitects to express their visions. Such projects could be developed, for instance, by collective farm construction companies (KEK), not as large state-led projects. Soviet planners bor-rowed, in many ways, planning ideas from the West, for example the principle of the mikrorayon, which was applied in the large housing estates. To Estonians, it was particularly the Finnish concept of the ´forest-suburb´ that came to be idealised. The development of large housing estates was nonetheless dictated by the Soviet state bureaucracy and exten-sive use of mass construction technology, especially standardised precast buildings, which created a monotonous built environment. Yet some Finnish influence can be recognised in Tallinn’s first large housing estate’s shopping and service centres, designed and built as sep-arate projects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHousing Estates in the Baltic Countries
Subtitle of host publicationThe Legacy of Central Planning in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
EditorsDaniel Hess, Tiit Tammaru
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-23392-1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameThe Urban Book Series


  • architectural influences
  • modernism
  • multi-family housing
  • Finland
  • Estonia
  • Soviet Union

Field of art

  • Architecture

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