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Key principles and guidelines

Key principles and guidelines

Lenderi maja arhitektuursed detailid.

In order to value and preserve built heritage, general guidelines and conditions have been imposed that are specified based on the object’s architectural value and technical condition, the scope and goals of its reconstruction and the conditions of protection and use established in its plans.

You must follow these guidelines when restoring valuable buildings in scenic districts:

  • When restoring existing historical and valuable buildings, it is important to preserve their authenticity as much as possible (including their constructions), repair any damaged structures and details and use traditional construction and finishing materials.
  • For buildings, the original appearance of the exterior must be preserved or restored based on the building’s preserved details and archival data or similar buildings from the same architect or era. The preparation of a reconstruction project starts by examining archival materials. Original construction plans and their modifications can usually be found from the archive of the Tallinn Urban Planning Department, inventory documents from the Tallinn City Archive and other materials from the National Archives of Estonia.
  • It is important to follow the initial principles of construction and preserve or restore the building’s original cladding (width/profile), plaster type and roof eaves, the decorative details of the facade, and the original windows and doors, awnings, stairways, barriers and other details. The missing or replaceable details of the building must be restored according to its initial details.
  • The planned reconstruction or extension must not alter the exterior of the historical building or be unsuitable for the scenic district. Depending on the building, the setting of the property and the scope of the extension, building extensions can follow the character of the historical building or have a more modern design. In most cases, the extension and the initial building must be clearly distinguishable yet also form a single architectural unit.
  • The internal layout of the building can be changed during reconstruction if it does not affect the load-bearing capacity and stability of its constructions or alter its exterior. Conditions of protection and use for scenic districts do not apply to the building’s interior (room layout, interior design). To preserve the historical features of the building, we advise owners to use as many original interior details as possible (interior doors, mirror ceilings, stairways, parquet flooring, coffered ceilings, etc.).
  • To reduce heat loss, we recommend insulating horizontal surfaces, including the ceiling of the basement and the attic, sealing doors and windows and replacing depreciated heating systems. Before choosing the right heating system for the building, we advise you to do a thermal imaging survey.
  • The installation of thermal insulation is classified as the reconstruction of the building. The possibility of insulation is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the building’s constructive and architectural solution and value. When installing thermal insulation, it is important to use materials suitable for the building’s structure. Exterior insulation of decorated facades (for ex Stalinist buildings) is not allowed.
  • When insulating a building externally, the characteristic projection of the socle, firewalls, stone staircase, eaves cornice and other architectural details must be preserved. In order to prevent the formation of external window sills, the windows of buildings insulated with wood fibre must be installed at the same time as the insulation and flush with the facade. When insulating a stone building externally, it is important to restore the pre-insulation retraction of windows from the facade.
  • The insulation plan of the basement has to be exhaustive. If necessary, the plan must also include the process of insulating the underground part and waterproofing the foundation. There must be a solution for ventilating the rooms located on the basement floor to dry the building’s structures and avoid moisture damage. When insulating the basement, all of its external walls must be plastered and painted. Basements made of stone or limestone should be kept in their original state. They can be grouted with lime mortar or cement plaster. Read more about insulation options for basements in historical buildings.
  • Generally, it is allowed to insulate the attic if the original height of the eaves line is preserved. In exceptional cases, raising the roof ridge is permitted. The possibility and extent of this activity is decided based on the building’s architectural solution, existing roofline and surrounding buildings as well as the restrictions set in the building’s plan. The possibility of installing roof windows or winch cabinets is determined on a case-by-case basis and under specific circumstances.
  • Windows and doors are typically made of wood. Their size, design, layout, profile and handing must be appropriate for the building. If possible, the original windows and doors must be restored. Existing windows and front doors that are made of the wrong material (plastic, metal) and do not fit the building’s exterior must generally be replaced by more architecturally suitable wooden ones in the reconstruction project. Read more – WINDOWS AND DOORS.
  • Depending on the building’s architectural design and type, the roofing can be made of steel sheets or a similar material, (ceramic) roofing tiles, wood shingles or small-sized, asbestos-free corrugated sheets. For flat roofs, rolled materials can be used.
  • Chimney stacks must be designed in a form and finish that fits the historical building (generally plastered and painted white). If the heating system of the building has been changed, the chimney can be used to conceal ventilation or other technical equipment. Read more about historical chimney stacks.
  • It is important to choose a suitable colour palette for the historical building. The colour palette must take into account the building’s type and era and the specific features of the district. We advise using traditional paint types and tones when painting the building. Use oil-based paint for external wood lining and details. If the building is high in value, its facade should be painted in its original colour, which can be determined by paint analysis.
  • For plasterwork, use lime plaster or lime plaster with a low cement content and prefer lime or silicate paint for external plastered surfaces. You are not allowed to use synthetic plaster for valuable and historical buildings. We suggest using thick plaster or other types of plaster specifically for rendering old buildings (including lime-based thermal insulating plaster).
  • In scenic districts, it is forbidden to use materials imitating traditional construction and finishing materials that are atypical for historical buildings in the exterior finishing of buildings. This includes metal or plastic cladding, facade panels, fibre cement boards, plastic windows, metal doors, profiled metal sheets, imitation stone grain metal roof panels, etc.
  • It is generally forbidden to install heating, ventilation and other technical equipment as well as satellite dishes or turbo pipes to the exterior walls of historical and valuable buildings. Technical equipment and outlets must be installed in a hidden location. The external ventilation openings must be placed symmetrically. The external ventilation grilles must be flat, small and square-shaped and be the same colour as the wall. The outlets of gas pipes must be protected with covers characteristic to the historical building. Full heating and ventilation systems must be installed in apartment buildings. If the installation or replacement of a technical system (including solar panels) results in alteration to the building’s facade, it is considered reconstruction. In this case, it is necessary to coordinate your building notice or construction plan with the Tallinn Urban Planning Department. Read more about the INSTALLATION OF TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT
  • When restoring or installing fences and gates, you must first ensure that the planned result takes the property, the building and the district into account. The layout, height, material and design of the fence and gates must be appropriate for a historical district. To choose the right fence and gates for the property, we advise following the initial design. Net fencing is not recommended for historical properties. More detailed requirements are set out in the comprehensive plan of the district. Read more about FENCES, YARDS AND LANDSCAPING.
  • In buildings and yards, it is important to preserve and restore details and small structures that fit the building’s milieu and architecture, such as forged awnings, flagpole mounts, hanging signs, number and street lighting and limestone terraces.
  • The technical condition of buildings in poor condition and the possibility of reconstructing them is assessed by the Tallinn Urban Planning Department, who conducts an audit of technical expertise. To assess the suitability of a new building in a scenic district, you must submit a sketch of the new building to the Tallinn Urban Planning Department.
  • According to regulation ‘Requirements for building design documentation’ (RT I, 1940) imposed by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, historical documentation about the history of the building’s construction must be submitted for buildings built before 1940. The documentation must also include a list and photos of preserved and valuable details as well as suggestions on how to reuse them (§ 25.9). Read more about the recycling of materials.
  • Find out more about wood facades, brick walls and plastered facades.

Last modified 29.04.2024