KOPLI SONATA. THE RUSSO-BALTIC SHIPYARD
Kopli, perhaps the most intriguing municipal district in Tallinn, appears to be at the threshold of important changes.
This year marks 105 years since the founding of the Russo-Baltic Shipyard built at the tip of the Kopli peninsula, one of Tallinn’s mightiest industrial enterprises. According to architecture historian Oliver Orro, the curator of the exhibition:
“The touch of the great currents of history can be felt in Kopli, perhaps at first glance unattractive with its somewhat run-down and worn appearance, and a great challenge for the future can be anticipated as well. This makes Kopli fascinating”.
The Russo-Baltic Shipyard began operation in Kopli, Tallinn in 1913. In addition to immense docks and shipbuilding basins, a number of limestone production buildings and a mighty main building with art nouveau attributes were built, and an extensive factory settlement was constructed, together with a service network. The famous architect and academician Aleksandr Dmitriyev headed the design of the entire complex. Problems arose in utilising large production buildings in the era of the independent Republic of Estonia. Efforts were made to turn the workers’ residential area into a contemporary, well-ordered district. Kopli gained a modern community centre and a school.
After the restoration of Estonia’s independence, the factory has continued as a ship repair enterprise. The Estonian Maritime Academy now operates in the former main building. The former factory settlement is no longer connected to the enterprise; that part of the settlement consisting of workers’ housing that is known under the name of the Kopli Lines has since the 1990s proven to be one of the most problematic districts in Tallinn. Many buildings that have been left vacant have burned down, sometimes in suspicious circumstances by now or stand in ruins. The original, integrally planned structure of the factory settlement is perishing to a great extent.
In recent years, many important changes have taken place in Tallinn’s development. Districts of wooden housing and former industrial areas have become highly-desirable residential and commercial districts and it is only a question of time before the construction boom spreads from Kalamaja to the Kopli Peninsula. The exhibition introduces the potential of Kopli’s industrial areas to become a contemporarily designed physical and social environment.
Kopli Sonata. The Russo-baltic Shipyard 2nd Floor 06.05. – 03.09.2017
Museum of Estonian Architecture Rotermann Salt Storage Ahtri 2, Tallinn
TEXT KRISTINA LUPP, TRIIN OJARI, PHOTO MUSEUM OF ESTONIAN ARCHITECTURE