If you had been to Tallinn in 1991, you would have avoided districts like Kalamaja, that were shady and run down. But all that has changed today, Kalamaja today is hip and bohemian. With a growing middle class choosing to make this place their home.
Nowhere in Kalamaja district better represents the change in Tallinn than the Telliskivi Creative City. Telliskivi Creative City is situated just outside the Tallinn Old Town, and established itself on what was once an industrial estate housing 11 dull factory blocks. Areas such as this, with a former use that has since disappeared are called brownfield land and are usually an eyesore on the city, especially until a purpose has been found for it.
These otherwise previously monochrome and lifeless structures have been given a fresh coat of paint and now represent the epicentre of creativity in the city. From some of the best bakeries in town, to some of the coolest designers, all of them call Telliskivi their workplace.
Telliskivi is filled with food, eateries, art galleries and amazing street art. Everything to make a hipster happy. It hosts clubbing events, and some of the craziest rave parties in Tallinn, and other more tame cultural events, such as the largest flea market in Tallinn every Saturday.
Then there’s also massive food festivals that operate in Telliskivi on certain occasions. We went there for lunch, at a restaurant-pub-club called F-hoone.
F-hoone was the first eatery to set up in Telliskivi and has since been joined by a host of some really great dining options.
But how did all this come about? It comes down to the management, the landlords of the place and it began in 2007 when a investment group called the Eastern European Real Estate Investment Fund, headquartered in Tallinn, bought the land in the area with the objective of encouraging a new platform for creative in the city. The chairman of the EEREIF was a young and investor called Jaanus Juss, a man with a solid social media presence but is relatively unreported outside the Estonian speaking world.
To create a creative city, they needed creative to move in so the fund incentivized creative firms by giving huge discounts to small tenants in the creative industry, fostering a culture of active participation by its tenants with events and discussion days. In a way the management built the land for the creatives and the creatives delivered.
There’s something very poetic about how a place designed for the most robotic and monotonous jobs, under a social organisation that preached uniformity and similarity to everyone else is also the very location that has been recolonised by its exact contrast – a social organisation that is about expressing individualism and uniqueness through colourful and lively activities.
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