New museum for a young nation: Estonia

New museum for a young nation: Estonia

Look closely at the photo below: on the far right you can just barely discern a human figure. That gives you an idea how big the new building for the Estonian National Museum is in the city of Tartu, which opens to the public next week, on Oct. 1st, 2016. It’s huge: 356 meters long, 72 meters wide, and 15 meters high at the front, sloping down gradually to just over 2 at the back. One of the world’s smallest countries now has one of the world’s biggest museums, at a cost of 75 million euro’s. The only bigger cultural building in the country is the Linnahall, built by the Soviets on the occasion of the 1980 Olympic Games.

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Shock of the new in Riga

Shock of the new in Riga

During my travels through the Baltic states, I write short observations.

The historic center of the Latvia’s capital, Riga, is charming, with cobbled streets, beautifully kept parks and imposing churches. Nothing, therefore, prepared me for the surprise of coming face to face with a strikingly sculptural and hypermodern red brick apartment building, between two medieval churches.  This is the new face of Riga. Read the article…

World’s highest pyramids in Estonia – made of waste

World’s highest pyramids in Estonia – made of waste

This is going to be the first tax optimalization landscape in Europe, maybe even in the world. It will be in a remote corner of Europe, in the northeast of Estonia, in the town of Aidu near the Russian border. Other than the country’s usual lakes and forests (about half of Estonia is covered with trees) Aidu has one unique selling point: 20 meters under the limestone in the ground, there is oil shale. To get to it, the mines have exploded tons of limestone. With this waste product, architecture firm KTA has created an impressive landscape of sculpted pyramids, ancient and futuristic at the same time. Read the article…

Vilnius’ Užupis is (almost too) cool

Vilnius’ Užupis is (almost too) cool

During my travels through the Baltic States, I write short observations. 

The neighborhood Užupis was in Soviet times (till 1990) the most rundown part of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Artists and alternative types moved in and in 1997 declared Užupis a republic, with its own flag, anthem and constitution. What does this mean for the neighbourhood?

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