The original machinery hall is a part of A.M. Luther’s Furniture Factory which existed between 1877–1940, which was know for bent-plywood furniture trademarked with Luterma. The machinery hall was completed in 1912, whose architects were Nikolai Vassiljev and Aleksei Bubyr from Saint Petersburg. The quarter kept producing furniture and plywood throughout the Soviet period but ceased its production in 2004 due to relocation to outside of the city. It stood empty for more than 10 years until it came to our drawing board.
When we arrive, the building was in a very poor state, unsafe even – the walls sinking, the concrete carbonated, the reinforcement rusted, water flowing everywhere. We weren't sure how much we could preserve. The heritage conservation regulations required that we keep openness of the original central nave with a glass roof lantern. The hall was with its mystic and even sacred views – with the light coming from above, it seemed that it was more like a Lutheran church than Luther’s factory.
The task was to satisfy the heritage conservation regulations as well as the need and wish of contemporary working environment within the long and deep factory building. By bringing new use into the building we could extend the life of a fine example of the industrial architecture of the time.
Our process started with to understand what is the quality of the space and practical requirement of office space. For organizing of the space the tools were used: “plaza” – the open space in the central nave, “plane”- the single-story open office, and “row-house” -multi-level office space.
We limited a tools of intervention: differentiating newly inserted structure by material and color, and utilizing as much plywood as possible to commemorate the production of the past.
The machinery hall was constructed with reinforced concrete structure, which was innovative in Estonia and the Baltic region at the time. The concrete construction of approximately 17.5 m in height, large windows located in the lateral walls and a double layered - glass roof lantern covering the entire central nave of the building was a luxury not yet seen in the industrial buildings of the period. The exterior wall - facade was made of local limestone masonry.
In the process we cleaned the existing concrete load-bearing structure. As our intervention we inserted new floor concrete slabs and supporting steel columns. They were treated to create contrast from the existing structure.
1. Facade cladding: (actually there is no cladding) Exposed limestone masonry, plastered brick masonry wall
2. Flooring: Concrete with surface hardener
3. Doors: Wooden frame
4. Windows: Wooden frame
5. Roofing: Glass roof, standing seam metal roofing
6. Interior lighting: Suspended pendant, Indi, Halla