Temples and towers



I propose architect Vilen Künnapu to become the next professor of liberal arts of the philosophy department of the University of Tartu.

Künnapu who graduated as an architect at the Estonian Institute of Art in 1971, was member of the legendary group of young artists called Soup-69 already as a student, organising numerous performances together with Andres Tolts, Jüri Okas and Ando Keskküla. Although his interests and connections with figurative art make his initial career look much like that of Professor Leonhard Lapin, he would still be the first widely acclaimed active architect in the row of the University’s liberal arts professors. As a member of the radical group of angry architects “Tallinn 10”, his professional career has proceeded in an ascending arch. Together with Lennart Meri and Ain Padrik he participated in the Lapp University / Arctic Centre competition in Rovaniemi that constituted one of the rare breakthroughs of Estonian architects to the international market in the Soviet era. He has received awards from elsewhere as well, e.g. at the urban centre planning competition in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Künnapu belongs among the so-called theorising and writing architects, he has published considerably and his lectures are attractive. Among other things he has also produced art criticism, and his private interests include metaphysical painting and existential philosophy. With the arrival of capitalism, he managed to establish his own successful architectural office Künnapu & Padrik: the numerous achievements include SAS Radisson, the notorious Viru Centre and other objects in the heart of Tallinn. How an abstract idea-person became an architect-realist with a huge impact on Tallinn’s urban space, is something that many are wondering about. Is an average citizen following and accepting the radical changes that the rapidly altering environment offers to us due to the property developers’ greed and the efforts of talented/untalented architects? Künnapu’s personal life and philosophy resemble those of Mick Jagger – the reckless man-about-town became a saint. He did not give up his daily jogging even in Hong Kong (this is where I tracked him down on the telephone asking his consent). Besides his Oriental interests, he is now also keen on meditation-trips to North-American Indians etc.

As a person who can talk about architecture (and not only that) in a truly inspired way, Künnapu would be the perfect choice because our rapidly transforming public space as a topic is not highly topical. To the students as well as the lecturers of the University of Tartu.

Jaan Elken
/chair of painting/