EKA maja

Republic of Estonia and Five Fates

Robert Natus (1890-1950) – the first architect trained in Estonia
Left Estonia along with the Baltic Germans

Tallinn Technical College's first graduates from the Department of Construction and Architecture
Tallinn Technical College’s first graduates from the Department of Construction and Architecture with faculty. The second from left to right in the first row is graduate architect Robert Natus. 1924. Tallinn University of Technology Museum; TTÜM N472

Robert Natus was of Baltic German descent, which played a significant role in his life. The Baltic Germans ruled Estonia from the 13th century, being landowners and the ruling social class. The buildings on Freedom Square date back to the time when Baltic German rule was replaced by Estonians.

He became the first architect in Estonia when he graduated from the Architecture Department of Tallinn Technical College.

In 1939, when the Baltic Germans left Estonia at the invitation of Adolf Hitler, he was stripped of Estonian citizenship, and he continued to live first in the Polish territories of Poznań and later in Bad Wilsnack, Germany.

Robert Natus passed away in 1950 abroad and never returned to Estonia.

Päewaleht no 12_13.01.1930_EKA maja
Freedom Square Now and in the Future. Päewaleht no 12 13.01.1930. dea.digar.ee

EKA building

The “EKA building,” currently known as the Tallinn City Government building, was designed by Robert Natus, who drew inspiration from Hamburg Expressionism in creating the building. His Baltic German background played a role in shaping his understanding of good architecture.

The house was built in 1932. The diamond pattern on the facade is not derived from Estonian folk costumes but rather from the mysticism and interest in the East among German expressionists. Thus, the pattern has Eastern influences. The abbreviation “EKA,” which nowadays reminds us of the Estonian Academy of Arts, actually originally stood for the Estonian Insurance Company (Eesti Kinnituse Aktsiaselts). In 1933, lantern holders created by Jaan Koort, depicting “Estonian Nana” and “Estonian Papa,” were installed near the main entrance of the facade. It was around this time that the diamond pattern began to evoke a particularly nationalistic sentiment. Red clinker mosaique was soon used on another of Natus’ well known buildings, only a few hundred meters from the City Hall.

Question

Do you know which one of these (1, 2 or 3 from top to bottom) is the other large red clinker expressionist building in Tallinn designed by Robert Natus? Do you know its location?

 

Hint

Look for the next QR code around the surroundings of the Tallinn Art Hall.

Location of the next QR code

 

 

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