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Eestikeelsed artiklid



Polina Tšerkassova

Polina Tcherkassova

Polina Tcherkassova

Vilen Künnapu

Maija Rudovska

Harry Pye

Jan Kaus

Marco Casagrande


The mystery of teaching

I began teaching architecture at the Tallinn University of Applied Sciences some time in the middle of the 1990s. I remember being granted freedom to do what I liked. Already in the first projects I tried to emphasise the conceptual side of the task and also architectural imagery. I remember the house belonging to the keeper of the park on the little round island in the pond in Kadriorg, and the residential house-art gallery of an art collecting prison warden on the Town Hall Square. I remember the warm and sunny autumn day when I took the students to the place of the burnt-down Mermaid in Rannamõisa. Later we sat on large stones on the beach under the klint and talked for a long time. The topic I have now forgotten, but I do remember the metaphysical feeling that captured us all.

Louis Kahn has said that the first school took place when a man sat under a tree and explained something to others around him. The others did not know that they were students, and the man under the tree had no idea he was a teacher. I have always enjoyed the moments when the student-teacher relationship is forgotten and we discover the world together. My method of supervising diploma works is to invite 5-6 students every Friday to our architectural office. We sit around a long table and produce synergy, so that there are no students, no teacher, no authors – there is only the spirit and a uniform creative energy. We are like small children in a sandpit who are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The Russian scientist Jevgeni Kuznetsov is convinced that there is a cosmic aesthetics in the Universe, which cures and heals human beings, animals, plants, as well as minerals.

Maria Müür. Jõgeva as a Human Being.
Diploma work, 2010.

Together with my students, I have tried to capture architecture's healing elements and employ them in our projects. Many among the hundreds of students I have taught over the years come from rural areas or small towns. A surprising number of them have sensitive powers and an awe-inspiring inner purity. We have been able to exchange energies. I have tried to awaken their creativity, they in turn have helped me to move on in my intellectual development. Several students have continued their studies at the famous architectural schools in the world metropolises. Some have become artists, stage designers, architectural historians. Many work at architectural offices, some have set up their own. A few of them are now living and working in London, Barcelona or Bangkok. There are also those who successfully participate in architecture competitions. Only recently, two Kristiinas won a big international architecture competition in Rakvere. Some former students are now my close colleagues. Armin Valter, Taavi Kaldoja and Kristjan Tõlk helped to work out an original architectonics of energy towers. Eve Arpo has taken part in various school projects as a guest critic, being my opponent as well as a mirror. The jointly compiled diploma works have often awakened an architectural spirit that has produced an unbreakable connection between the students and myself.

I have invited speakers from abroad, architects and spiritual teachers, for example Marco Casagrande from Taiwan, Chi Ti-Nan from China, Shirish Beri from India and the lama Sanghje from Tibet. They are all masters of cosmic energy and certainly expanded the students' image of architecture of the new era. I remember Marco's workshop, where a car wreck was dragged in front of the Tallinn municipality building, a large hole was cut into the car roof and green trees planted inside the car. TV and radio were invited to the spot, and a memorable architecture event was thus casually created. Chi's lectures about urban acupuncture and Chinese military art were quite radical as well. Shirish talked about the world as a whole where everything is connected to everything else, offering new possibilities to the students in joining Eastern and Western cultures. The appearance of lama Sanghje in his orange-red monks' habit was an event in itself. He delivered a lecture and helped to supervise our project of a Buddhist cultural centre.

I am trying to recall interesting projects over the years. For example Eva-Maria Gromakovski's metaphysical event reactor in Kalasadam, Eve Arpo's monastery and the surrounding forest in the area east of the Tallinn City Hall, centre of space tourism in Rocca al Mare. It was a spatial composition under a huge glass dome, inspired by the Cassiopeia constellation, with balconies, glass lifts, escalators and metal globes.

Lauri Vaimel. Tower-in Tallinn City cemetery.
Course work, 2007.

Kadri Post. Rehabilitation centre by Lake Peipsi. Diploma work, 2007.

Teresa Varik. Hara castle. Course work, 2010.

Pille Heinloo's Centre of Physical and Spiritual Culture on Skoone bastion possessed strong energy and constituted an excellent mandala sign linked to the surrounding landscape; mention should also be made of Liidia Grinko's Tallinn Prison project in Maardu. The leading idea of this project was the healing cosmic aesthetics as well. Among more radical projects were Lauri Vaimel's Tower-in Tallinn City cemetery and Maria Müür's project "Jõgeva as a Human Being", where the town plan was seen as an image of man with all the energy centres and chakras. Especially remarkable is a crown-shaped railway station to denote the heart's charka. The station floated above the railway and united two parts of the town into one whole again. Then there were Taavi Kaldaru's futurist superstructure to the classicist main building of the University, and Kadri Post's rehabilitation centre by Lake Peipsi.

Among recent interesting tasks was the 4th-year project last autumn called The Castle. The students had to design a castle as they imagined one and locate it wherever they wished. It was fascinating to see how their subconscious sprang to life. A hotel in the shape of a cactus flower was designed on top of a 150-m mountain in the middle of the Aruba Island (Reet Salu); above a deserted island along the northern Estonian coast a castle in the air appeared, which was supposed to be a spiritual home for the wild sheep living on the island (Marju Potter and Mari Renno); a minimalist castle-holiday house built on a pier in an abandoned Russian submarine base (Teresa Varik) and a modern art temple on the edge of Türisalu cliff, which followed the proportions of the Mayas pyramids (Silver Soe).

Pille Heinloo. Centre of Physical and Spiritual Culture on Skoone bastion, Tallinn. Diploma work, 2004.

Silver Soe. Art temple in Türisalu.
Course work, 2010.


Liidia Grinko. Tallinn Prison in Maardu.
Diploma work, 2006.

Reet Salu. Hotel in Aruba. Course work, 2010.

Diana Vene. Magical village in Santorini.
Diploma work, 2011.

I also remember a huge cube-landmark on the coast of Hiiumaa Island, with had some usable rooms inside (Triin Soonvald); a genuine royal castle in Hiiumaa (Aivar Nigumann); a ball-shaped dance centre in New Jersey; a sculptural art gallery in Toila (Diana Vene, Kristina Piven) and a hunting lodge-castle in memory of the author's father (Henri Jõekalda). The students' display made you feel that in the cell memory of every person, there is an ancient memory of some sort of a castle – you just have to find it.

I ask myself what teaching has given to me, and to my great surprise I discover that largely thanks to teaching I have written several books, participated in various fascinating art exhibitions with a number of conceptual projects and installations. In the course of exchanging information with the students I have learned a lot and developed myself. I have learned to express energy information in human language, which the cosmos conveys to us. An ancient truth – if you want to help yourself, help others – has been proved once again.

We live at a time when the vibration frequency of the consciousness of people on this planet is on the increase. What will be taught at schools in the future, is first of all the art of living. At the time when most agreements are becoming invalid, when human consciousness begins to perceive everything energetically and holistically, teaching perhaps means doing only very little, whereas learning means joining a kind of cognitive current, much larger and stronger than an individual. I think that in future schools people will mainly exchange experiences and the distinct border between teacher and student will disappear.


Vilen Künnapu
architect and artist