examples from
across the world

on new successful purposes
for architecture

The balanced and sustainable development of a uniform environment will ensure the best result for the Kalamaja region, the City of Tallinn and foreign tourists visiting the complex. At the conference commemorating international heritage conservation laws, held in Tallinn on 12–13 October 2016, the participants were introduced the issues surrounding the Kalaranna fort, and experts brought examples from similar complexes and their solutions across the world.

Several experts highlighted that in case of so big complexes, it would be reasonable for both the heritage conservation and wider public purposes, if these were developed by the state, a local government or a foundation established by either party, involving private investors, non-profit organisations and local communities or a wider circle of interested persons. There are a few military and prison complexes in the neighbouring countries, where finding a new purpose for the complex has created similar issues as in Tallinn. For most of them, a good solution has been found over time, and these have been developed in a balanced way as a sustainable and undivided environment:

The former military complex consisting of 8 islands, located near the Helsinki city centre, was transferred in civil ownership in 1973. In 1991, Suomenlinna was entered in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The complex has been mostly left in state ownership (there are single private properties on the island), the islands’ heritage is administrated by a foundation. Suomenlinna is one of the biggest tourist attractions of Helsinki

Suomenlinna is also is city district of Helsinki, accommodating a nursery school, a primary school, a library, shops, cafés, museums and art galleries. Out of public authorities, the island houses a naval college with an area for barracks, as well as border guard, a rescue company and an open prison. Five islands have public transport connection with the City of Helsinki.

The old Katajanokka prison is a contemporary of the Kalaranna fort, but was initially built as a prison. Large extensions were mainly constructed in the 19th century. The prison was closed in 2002 or at the same time as the Tallinn Central Prison in the Kalaranna fort. In 2007, the prison was turned into a four-star hotel. The complex has been restored well and its history is well presented to today’s hotel visitors.

The Bomarsund fortification along with its campuses, is the sister fortification of the Kalaranna fort in Tallinn, but much larger in measurements. Bomarsund was blown up during the war in 1854, and has been in ruins ever since. In 1999, a heritage conservation area was formed in the repeatedly pillaged complex.

When maintaining and developing the unit with little funds, a good result can be achieved by limply clearing it of vegetation and reconstructing a few parts. It is important to present digital reconstructions on a website and on-site information plaques. It is a cheap, but an attractive solution for tourists. In Tallinn, these solutions could be practiced at a very low cost as well.

Waxholm was one of the Swedish coastal guard centres even after WWI. Starting from 2010, private companies, a local non-profit organisation, state museums and heritage conservation are active in developing the fort. Fortifications are still present on several nearby islands. Some facilities are still owned by the Swedish military, but the Fredriksborg fort is already open for visitors.

The fort on Waxholmen island accommodates the museum for Swedish coastal protection history, a non-profit organisation for museum enthusiasts and various active areas intended primarily for children. The fort’s barracks house a well-known hostel, rental spaces and outdoor facilities for events, a restaurant, picnic areas, etc.

On the neighbouring Waxö island, there is the City of Waxholm, which is an important tourist destination especially popular in the summer. The island is well-connected with the city centre of Stockholm by both bus and ship. Transport between islands is even free of charge in some places.

The Swedish naval base was established here in 1680. In the Swedish State, Karlskrona had close ties with Tallinn; Erik Dahlbergh, a serviceman and statesman active in Estonia, was also active in Karlskrona. Since 1998, the base and city belong in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Karlskrona base, which is located in some distance from the city centre, is a good example of what the state (mainly Swedish navy) and the city can achieve at a large complex in close cooperation. It is the more meaningful, as the city and navy have historically been separated and have had rather chilly relationships. The navy base is closed as a rule, but some visits can be arranged for foreign tourists.

In the city, there is the prominent Naval Museum, which serves also as the region’s tourist centre and offers friendly competition to the Estonian Maritime Museum. The city is most presentable and well-maintained, being developed in cooperation between the county and navy. Their partners include the Navy Office for Fortification Facilities, the state real-estate authority and the Lutheran Church. Naturally, non-profit organisations and private persons are active in so-called friends’ societies.

Daugavgrīva fortress in Riga, Latvia

The main body of the Daugavgrīva fortress (a bastion fort surrounded by a water moat) is, unfortunately, a bad example of transferring a fort in private hands. The state (Latvian defence forces) transferred the fort to the City of Riga in 1995, while the city gave it to a private investor (a local construction company) in 1999.

The private owner has organised some demolition and clearing works, but as a whole, the complex has been neglected for years, is growing in with thicket, and is dilapidating. The private enterprise itself has no vision or means for developing the fortress in the future.

The Daugavpils fortress is an excellent example of how the city tries to keep an immense size (several times larger than Tallinn) in public use, bring in new life and properly restore single objects. This way, a pump house was turned into an information centre, and only restoring a single gate and its ravelin at first. By today, however, it has become one of the signature features of the fortress.

The armoury was reconstructed into the Mark Rothko art centre, where concerts are held, as well as educational programmes for children and young people, artists’ residency, etc. Naturally, there are also shops and eateries. Much attention has been paid to participation events and to exhibition and conference tourism. Currently, the fortress and the on-site Rothko Centre are the most popular tourist attractions of the city and the whole region (across the border in Lithuania and Belarus).

The complex, established in late 18th century, which forms a part of the naval shipbuilding factories, is a triangular artificial island in the Neva River’s system of rivers and canals, which are also part in the island’s composition. In 1828–1830, a large navy prison (Butõlka) with a circular floor plan was constructed. It is a contemporary of the Kalaranna fort in Tallinn.

In 2004, it was finally transferred to the city, but private companies developed the area with long stoppages due to lack of funds. The construction and design works were finally commenced in 2014. The grounds were partly opened in 2016 and will be completed in 2025. The complex will be gradually developed and completely reconstructed along with its buildings, canals, green areas and waterfronts for the public use, for example, as skating arenas in the winter.

It is a good example that even a large city has abandoned development that is based on private capital and pursues fast profit, instead contributing to balance, especially the development of a consistent urban space in public use. The buildings accommodate cultural, entertainment, catering, handicraft, office and other facilities.

A former military island between the South-East end of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Its surface area is 70 ha (about 2/3 of the heritage conservation area in the Old Town of Tallinn). Castle Williams is a contemporary of the Kalaranna fort and they look alike as well.

Gradual transfer of the complex from the military to civil use was launched in 1996, and in 2002, the fort was intended to be sold at a public auction. However, it was realised that in the future, the grounds have important public use potential, and several clauses were entered in the sales conditions for the benefit of the New York City. In the city, the fort was left unsold.

In 2003, a public transport link was established with the island. In 2016, the island was open on 7 days a week from late May to the end of September. About 2/3 of the island is accessible for the public, while the rest contains the former barracks and harbour complexes, whose use will be decided during further development.

In 2012, the first 10-year plan was made for the island's development. At that time, four big (5–10-storey) residential buildings from the 1950s–1970s were demolished in the North-Western coast of the island, because the available park area was found to be more valuable than the potentially reconstructed apartments. A 7.5-hectare field (Parade Ground) will be preserved as an open grass field, where everyone can go on a picnic, for example.

The island is partly administrated by the National Park Service (NPS, which also administrates federal monuments) and partly by the foundation established by the New York City. The foundation is also the general manager of the island’s development. The Friends of Governor’s Island non- profit organisation has also been founded.