About the Building and Development of Urban Space in Supilinn Supilinna hoonestuse ja linnaruumi kujunemisest (18. sajandi lõpust 20. sajandi alguseni)

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Mart Siilivask


The article tries to shed light on Supilinn’s spatial development during the previous two centuries, to the extent that this is possible, based on the source materials that are available to the author. Namely, Supilinn is one of the districts in Tartu, where as fate would have it, not much has been destroyed or replaced during the last couple of centuries. Therefore, despite the changes that have taken place in recent decades and the destruction of quite a few valuable buildings, the local soup has remained quite hearty, and tastes quite rich and diverse.  Supilinn has been saved by the fact that the district has been bypassed by the main developments of the city, and, quite definitely, some things have survived thanks to the fact that the most daring and innovative dreams of the 18th-century fortification engineers and the 20th-century city planners were not realised. If the opposite had occurred, we would be dealing with a totally different, and probably significantly less attractive, environment.

The development of Supilinn, on the shore of the Emajõgi River on the lands of Tähtvere Manor, started after the Great Northern War. On a town plan from 1732, a section of street with seven buildings alongside the Emajõgi River is discernible, along with a narrow road at the beginning of the current Oa Street, with individual buildings on both sides. In 1729, most of the area of the future Supilinn (to the later Meloni Street) was merged with the town.

Supilinn took shape during the 1770s, in connection with the planned reconstruction of the town fortifications. Namely, some of the residential buildings and structures that were located outside the town fortifications were in the way of the new earthen fortifications. The deletion of Tartu from the list of fortified towns that occurred in 1782 provided new impetus to the development of the suburbs and the development of a permanent architectural structure. After the fire of 1775, the north-western border of the town was made uniform on both sides of the river, and thereafter it ran along Piiri Street in Supilinn. In a city map from 1811, we see the street network of the district and the buildings on the lots. The structure of the streets in the district was established after the regulation of the streets carried out in the second decade of the 19th century. By 1870, when construction activity started to accelerate throughout the city, sparsely located, and primarily one-storey, wooden residences had been built on the majority of the old garden lots in the district. Subsequent development resulted in the parcelling of the lots and the densification of the building.

The spatial development of the district extends from the 18th century to the second and third decades of the 20th century, which, after the temporary conservation in the second half of the 20th century, has already been followed by new architectural strata.

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