Considering the 18th Century Estonian Manorial Landscapes in Contemporary Planning

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Sulev Nurme


The period of peace following the Great Northern War (1700 – 1721) allowed Estonian manorculture to flourish. The baroque manorial cores, acting as local economic and cultural centres,turned into visual and symbolic landmarks that defined the local landscapes and land-use patterns.Baroque manor ensembles, due to their theatrical layout, are closely connected to theirsurrounding landscapes. This in turn means it is impossible to holistically understand, protect orpresent these ensembles without the added context of their surrounding landscape. The followingarticle is based on author’s PhD thesis "Understanding the role of 18th Century Estonian manorensembles in contemporary planning and conservation" and discusses how the conceptualcharacteristics of Estonian baroque manor ensembles and their landscapes are essential toperceiving the manor ensemble as an architectural whole. The results presented in this articledefine different areas in manorial landscapes in which spatial developments can have either aneutral, positive or negative effect on the overall manor ensemble. In addition to this, the articlegives examples of possible developments that can enhance or diminish the significance of abaroque manor ensemble as a distinct architectural space. Understanding the spatial qualities andphenomena that affect the semantic field of baroque ensembles, allows us to direct the spatialdevelopments of these areas in a way that helps preserve their spatial qualities and values in thebest possible manner. Even though the article concentrates on a rather specific phenomenon inthe form of baroque manorial landscapes, the same analytical approach can be used to studyother areas of built environment and cultural landscapes.

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