Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2019 Beauty Matters

Yael Reisner,

Tönu Tunnel,

Tallinn, Estonia,

Architecture and Culture, Exhibitions,


Exhibition, Event,

This fifth edition of the Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB), organised by the Estonian Centre for Architecture and curated by London-based architect Dr Yael Reisner, is running until 17 November 2019; this year’s theme is Beauty Matters and the opening week chalked up a record number of visitors.

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Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2019 Beauty Matters The Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2019 called Beauty Matters, celebrates the aesthetic experience in architecture, after almost 80 years of cultural bias. The official programme consists of five main events: the Curatorial Exhibition Beauty Matters; the Symposium Beauty Matters Just Like Love, It’s Real; the Vision Competition Exhibition entitled New Habitats, New Beauties: Speculations for Tallinn; the Installation Programme, Huts and Habitats; and the International Architecture Schools’ Exhibition, Terribly Beautiful. At the same time, a satellite programme complemented these events, comprising 20 activities and fringe events: exhibitions, conferences, installations and screenings of architectural films throughout the city.
At TAB 2019, the curatorial exhibition Beauty Matters aims to elevate the status of beauty in response to alienating and ecologically unfit built environments. In the words of Yael Reisner, the head curator of TAB: “Aspiring to beauty is aiming at depth — the true challenge in architecture, as it is in poetry, neurobiology, mathematics, or politics. ...a conduit for the emotional experience of beauty in an urban context.”
This forms the backdrop for Steampunk the winning installation of the Tallinn Architecture Biennial 2019 Installation Program Competition and designed by Gwyllim Jahn, Cameron Newnham (Fologram, AU), Soomeen Hahm Design (UK), Igor Pantic (UK), Format Engineers (UK). 
Steampunk is a pavilion constructed from steam-bent hardwood using primitive hand tools augmented with the precision of intelligent holographic guides. The designers of Steampunk tell us that they did not produce drawings or lines of CNC code from which parts of the design might be cut, printed or assembled and instead developed an experimental approach based on the artisan aspect of the process. A deliberate polemic in the context of robotic production and automation that underscores the nuance and subtlety so commonly found in traditional craft practices. These aspects are often absent from the artefacts of robotic production because the intuition and understanding of the qualitative aspects the quantitative of a project are difficult to describe in the deterministic and explicit language of these machines.
The pavilion is constructed in a cross plan – a bit like a traffic island – that divides the grassy mound of the Biennial site into four distinct spaces that frame views towards the old city of Tallinn and the Architecture Museum. The standout material nature of Steampunk comes from the somewhat arcane and notoriously difficult process of steam bending. Each strip of wood is bagged, steamed, and bent over an adaptable, moldless formwork.  In this case, the designers used a holographic model as a reference to the desired result, combining the hybrid analogue construction of their installation with the precision and flexibility of digital models.  The result is an installation where beauty matters, and where the end result successfully combines an old material with contemporary technology in a skilful, albeit arcane process.
The Tallinn Architecture Biennale closes on 17 November 2019.

Chrisiane Bürklein

Tallinn Architecture Biennale TAB 2019 “Beauty Matters”
Dates: 11 September – 17 November 2019
Head Curator: Dr. Yael Reisner (London)
Assistant Curator for Curatorial Competition entry: Johanna Jõekalda (Tallinn)
Curators' Assistants: Liina Soosaar (Tallinn), Barnaby Gunning (London)
Production: Eve Arpo, Maria Kristiin Peterson (Estonian Centre for Architecture)
School’s Exhibition Curators:Merilin Kaup, Ulla Alla, Margus Tammik (Tallinn)
Satellite Programme Curator: Kirke Päss (Tallinn)
Find out more: http://www.tab.ee
Images: Tönu Tunnel


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