Presidency venue – Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel)

The main venue for the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel), a multifunctional creative and cultural centre located by the sea in central Tallinn.

The carefully renovated building boasts a fascinating history and has become a popular venue for cultural events, festivals, concerts and exhibitions, as well as housing various creative businesses. The character of the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) is matched by its surroundings - the cosy Creative Hub Garden is perfect for holding events or just relaxing in the summer, while more colour is provided by the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM), the Energy Discovery Centre, and Linnahall, a Soviet-era former concert and sports venue soon set for a makeover.

The Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) is located in the former building of Tallinn City Central Power Station, which began operating in 1913 and closed in 1979. Arguably it was the founding of the power station that brought electric power to the masses in Estonia. The limestone building which now houses the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) used to be the power station’s boiler room, which was completed in 1934.

Kultuurikatel
Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel). Photo: Kaupo Kalda

The brick chimney was erected in 1948 and was the tallest in the Baltic States at the time, rising to a height of 102.5 metres.

The impressive boiler hall has a 16-metre ceiling, and houses giant boilers built in 1948 and 1949. They were designed and made in Estonia and adapted for the use of local oil shale. Oil shale has also had a lasting impact on the landscape around the Creative Hub. As there was no place to store the ash left over from burning oil shale, it was dumped on the beach, thus steadily advancing the shoreline. Linnahall now stands on the resulting ash field.

The chimney of the power station also had to be extended to prevent a thick black smoke from blanketing the city. The brick chimney was erected in 1948 and was the tallest in the Baltic States at the time, rising to a height of 102.5 metres.

Stalker (1979)
Stalker (1979)

The power station stopped production on 2 February 1979, while the boilers continued to operate until the early 1990s.

However, the most colourful detail in the history of the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) is related to culture and, more specifically, 1977, when the renowned Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky shot his film Stalker, now a classic of sci-fi cinema, in the complex. The famous scene where the protagonists enter the Zone was filmed right at the gate of the Creative Hub. The letters UN - standing for United Nations - were painted on the chimney in the course of the film shoot and are still visible today.

 

The spatial working environment design concept

by Urmo Vaikla, Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla / Vaikla Studio and Mikk Meelak / Platvorm

The spatial environment expresses the combined and opposing effects of robotisation, demographic processes, global warming, and a number of other factors. Finding a dynamic rhythm and balance is important in the creation of a work environment where the inner space carries a role in achieving efficiency and an effective workflow. 

 

Idea and space: installation-based, interactive solutions

Interior view of the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel)
View of the Delegates Gallery: the interior design showcases historical 
and contemporary Estonian furniture (photo: Aron Urb/EU2017EE)

The industrial atmosphere characteristic of the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) is enhanced with the addition of a digital level – visualising the dynamics of nature, such as the movement of air or the flowing of water. With the help of a digital impulse from wind speed (from the Ristna weather station in Hiiumaa) and wave height (from Tallinn Bay), the digital screen wall (the Boiler Room), the illuminated textile (Power Station), and the kinetic illuminated ceiling of the main meeting hall (Engine Hall), are activated. The starting point for the activation of these solutions is technologically similar data, which is expressed through the characteristic means of each object – the installation of digital screens through interactive hyper-abstractions, the digital textile through a delicate play of light, and the kinetic illuminated ceiling activates as a digital spatial object. 

Interior view of the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel)
View of the Highway: the interior design complements the industrial atmosphere
with a focus on the digital and nature (photo: Aron Urb/EU2017EE)

Adapting such a historic building into a modern working environment with a startup feel brings out the spatial characteristics and historic details of the building, and its lounge. This has been completed with the help of modern design solutions inspired by the untouched forests and yellow rapeseed fields of Estonia. The inclusion of innovative Estonian design in the creation of a functional space provides a brief bird’s-eye view of the history of Estonian furniture, from traditional Saaremaa spa chairs and innovative bent plywood seating made by the Luther factory, to contemporary furniture, lighting, and design elements. 

 

The combined effect of these solutions and interactive surfaces ties the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel), into a conceptual whole, which provides politicians and international guests with the opportunity to relate to Estonian nature and a sense of location-specific identity, while also adapting the space into a synergic meeting place. 

Interior view of the meeting room at the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel)
The design of the main meeting room is inspired by the untouched forests and yellow rapeseed fields of Estonia (photo: Aron Urb/EU2017EE)

The Flow

The Flow digital installation brings together two of Estonia’s biggest strengths – digital capability, and the element of untouched nature. In nature, nothing is digital; in the digital world, there is no nature. Flow unites the two into a single art installation. A feat that is only possible in the digital age. 

Interior view of the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel)
The Flow digital installation shows the movement of the wind and people
in real time (photo: Aron Urb/EU2017EE)

The wind that blows over the masts of the Ristna weather station in Hiiumaa appears on the screen before the viewer in real time. The viewer will see and experience the movement of the wind, the changes in its rhythm, patterns and strength. But when the viewer moves, perhaps to raise a hand, the digital installation will reveal mankind’s ability to interfere with nature. The patterns will change, and rhythms will become different; the will and power of humanity stand beside the forces of nature. 

Creative director: Mikk Meelak; designer: Raul Kalvo; coders: Marti Kaljuve, Mikk Pärast; technical producer: Andreas Wagner; graphic design: Agnes Ratas

 

 

More images of the interiors of the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) are available on our photos page and Flickr site.

Location

Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel)

Põhja puiestee 27a, Tallinn 10415, Estonia