Viivikonna – Formation of a Ghost Town Amongst Other East Estonian Oil-Shale Mining and Industrial Town


  • Siim Sultson



East Estonia, oil-shale, industrial towns, urban planning, Viivikonna, Stalinism


The central Stalinist urban ensembles in East Estonian oil-shale mining and industrial townsKohtla-Järve, Ahtme, Sompa, Jõhvi, Kukruse, Kiviõli, Kohtla-Nõmme and Sillamäe areprotected by comprehensive plans and regarded as built-up areas of cultural andenvironmental value; Viivikonna, although similar to these towns, does not boast suchpatronage. Compared to other oil-shale mining and industrial towns, Viivikonna has becomea brownfield nearly completely. What could be the reason for such a difference?Someanswers may be found in history (1946–1980). Viivikonna is the only East Estonian oil-shalemining and industrial town that follows urban planning principles and a pattern, establishedby the Department of Architecture of the Estonian SSR, led by Harald Arman, to this day.However, it is necessary to decide the purpose of Viivikonna in the near future: whether partsor whole of the town are worthy of preservation–both in the economic and aesthetic sense.


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Author Biography

Siim Sultson

Siim Sultson (b. 1972) holds a PhD in urban planning history and architectural history. Hehas worked as a lecturer and an associate professor of Art History since 2000. His field ofresearch and research interests are Estonian twentieth-century interwar, post-war architecture,urban planning, andurban space; living space on the background of Soviet interwar and post-war urban planning; German interwar urban planning; and Stalinist urban ensembles in north-eastern Estonian cities: determination, typology, and potential as factors of the cities’ spatialdevelopment.