Suur-Lossi 14, Haapsalu, Estonia
Margit Aule, Katri Mets and Kristi Merilo
The historical granary on the property at Suur-Lossi 14 can be seen on a town map of Haapsalu from 1848 and on a lithograph from 1858. The first known conversion project dates back to 1925, when there were plans to turn the former granary into a cinema, called ‘Empire’. Over time, the building was redeveloped on a number of occasions, adding new elements in tune with the times. In 1956 a cinema named ‘Oktoober’ (October) was opened in the building. Later, after privatisation, the building accommodated a nightclub called ‘Club Impulse’.
The granary, the cinema and the nightclub — all the former functions of the building — had no need for windows. Yet the building is situated at a unique location in the Old Town of Haapsalu with views of the evening sun and Väike Viik lake. The new owner, Arjan van der Kooij saw the former cinema as a promising private residence, and the architects now had to meet the challenge of how to open the building to sunshine and the views: there is sea on one side and a historical episcopal castle on the other.
We decided to remove the cinema auditorium on the garden side: that side of the building will be glass-only, with terraces opening into the garden. The building has also some interesting stalinist elements, and we have preserved the gable together with the fenestration. The height and slope of the roof have been restored on the basis of the granary building, with some new incised elements aimed at opening the building to the evening sun and the sea.