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Eestikeelsed artiklid



Sakura Iso

Harry Pye

Vilen Künnapu

Udo Kultermann

Marco Casagrande

Christian Edlinger

Elizabeth Haarala


Toivo Tammik


Encounters with power

Man’s eyes can fulfill two functions: to see energy in general, flowing in the universe, and the other is to “see things in that world”. Neither of these functions is better than the other; but to train eyes for nothing else but seeing is shameful and a pointless waste.”

Carlos Castaneda “The Wheel of Time”

In summer 2003 I began designing a Buddhist centre at Jälgimäe. As a result of a long search and extensive sketching I slowly and gradually entered a promising creative state. Communication with Estonian Buddhists and the local lama Sanghje directed me to the schemes that acquired a peculiar power. One day the solution became absolutely symmetrical. An oblong redoubt surrounded by a wall consisted of a front yard, the temple was enveloped by two-storey wing buildings with yards in between. Two classical golden-hued stupas stood in the back courtyard and steps led from between them to the furthest part of the redoubt with a square mandala garden. The central image of the garden was the cone-shaped mandala temple encircled by water, walls, lawn, flowers and four pyramid pavilions in the corners of the square.

Vilen Künnapu.
Buddhist Centre in Jälgimäe, Estonia. Project, 2003.


Vilen Künnapu.
Circular Temple in Tallinn Prison, Estonia. Section and plan, 2004.

Relying on classical Buddhist knowledge and in constant contact with the Buddhists, especially with architect Tiivi Torim and my own students, who tackled the same problem as their course task, I finally reached the plan that began resounding inside me. I have never experienced anything quite so intense and pure. The building turned into an object of meditation inside me, and the subsequent stable sensation of happiness lasted for months. At the age of 55 I had experienced a deep inner change. I re-assessed practically all values in life, I had found a connection with Power. The new architecture that I called spiritual or energetic architecture, emerged as a by-product of my rebirth.

The next work in this field was the conceptual project “9 Mandala Temples in London, in River Thames”, completed on the commission of the paper “Human” and formed a part of the architectural exhibition “Greetings from London”. I managed to revive nine central images, which all fitted into a cube of 12 x 12 x 12 m and were meant as temporary installations floating on River Thames. As in other projects, I would like to point out the computer graphics of the young architect Armin Valter. As a rule, the Power seeps into the sketch, another explosion usually occurs in photo montage, at the moment when the energies of the image and the place merge.


A work that progressed by stages in the development of spiritual architecture was the project of the Round Temple for the Tallinn Prison. I learned more about the Prison from the summer of 2003 when I started volunteer work in the support groups. Few people in Tallinn have any idea that almost in the middle of the city there is a mysterious closed town with its streets, squares, sports hall, boiler-house and church. The buildings are of grey brick, with some whitewashed long boxes in between, self-made metal sheds, bridges, ladders, gates and chimneys. Above the concrete iron walls the inmates can see the towers of Tallinn, tall trees in parks, the descending aeroplanes and endlessly changing clouds. The vision of the round temple seemed to move as if by itself into the centre of the main square of the prison, and was as such warmly approved by both the administration and the prisoners. The explanatory letter of the project says: “The bulk of the orange temple opposes the existing white walls, trees and occasional objects. It is like a UFO landed in the courtyard. The temple is a tower of energy that transmits cosmic energy to us. In relation to the centre, the circular room (d = 7.4 m) descends by stages. The centre has a cylinder-shape basis with a huge candle on top. Through the glass dome above, light falls right into the centre. People organise various religious rituals in the temple, meditate, arrange poetry evenings and meetings of AA and NA, or listen to spiritual music, etc. Essentially, the temple resembles an early-Christian catacomb, American Indian tipi or an Oriental stupa. The temple of energy is aimed at liberating the creative nature of the inmates, repel evil spirits and demons and create a positive field.”

After the prison project, several solutions of energetic architecture emerged one after the other within a short period of time. Together with partner Ain Padrik we completed the Three Tower House in Tallinn on Narva Road and a spiral tower block in Tartu by River Emajõgi, the Salvation Army Church-Workshop in Paljassaar and the Day Centre for Homeless Children in Kopli yoghurt factory and a chapel at Viljandi Forest Cemetery (all three in cooperation with Taavi Kaldaru).

A significant project was the one for Path of Light Church in Tallinn. A complicated programme and location required architecture which united the dynamics of Malevich and the heavy features of an ancient temple. The power entered the project when the east-west horizontal axis of the church joined the vertical axis determined by the central dome and the pulpit.

Vilen Künnapu, Ain Padrik.
Three tower building in Tallinn at Narva road, 2005.

Vilen Künnapu.
Temple-house in Suurupi, Estonia.
Views from inside and outside, 2005

Vilen Künnapu.
Chapel in the Huuksi Manor Park. Project, 2005


Vilen Künnapu.
9 Mandala Temples on the river Thames, London.
Project, 2004.

Vilen Künnapu.
The Salvation Army Church-Workshop in Paljassaare, Tallinn. Sketch.

Vilen Künnapu.
The Day Centre for Homeless Children in Kopli Yoghurt Factory, Tallinn. Sketch.

The last spiritual projects include a chapel in Huuksi manorial park and a temple building in Suurupi.
The first tried to produce a row of images in the park, which would help to restore the energy of the manor. The chapel was designed at the core of the main building of the manor, and the whole axis was lined with objects such as a wooden gatehouse, an obelisk in the centre of the circle, a chapel, a sculpture and to finish the row, the most important tree of the ensemble, a huge spruce that is under protection. Interestingly, the power appeared in the sketches of the chapel only after we made use of the main axis of the park. Snap – and the power was there. This is all it takes for the cosmic energy to flow into architecture – at first into the architect’s sketch and then into a completed building. Unlike other creators, a priest-architect produces such sketches knowingly, on purpose. In his compositions he uses the holy geometry and other eternal secret knowledge. The sketches emerge in the state of silent prayer and meditation, in silence and in gratitude to the Creator. The project was born as a project from one architect to another. My colleague Toivo Tammik in the role of a commissioner provided the task, the fulfilment of which afforded the undersigned the greatest of pleasures.

The temple house project is very nearly ready, commissioned by the Buddhist and writer Ülo Mattheus. The location of the residential house is an empty area with an excellent energy field on a high limestone klint in Suurupi. The ground plan of the building composed of a circle, an octagon and a square, resembles a mandala. The rooms are placed around the heart of the two-storey house, where the ground floor is residential and the library on the first floor can be taken as a place of worship. The mandala centre is marked by a cylindrical pyramid in the middle of the sacred place and by a tower with a glass dome above it. The pyramid is designed as an altar, with an east-facing figure of Buddha on top of it. People can meditate around the centre, bookshelves line the long round wall. The whole complex is like a small Buddhist centre – mandala is encircled by a wild garden, two white stupas and an economic house with a gable roof at the back. The exterior of the building is a good energetic antenna for the entire neighbourhood, the interior with the mandala plan forms a harmonious environment for the daily life of the family, as well as for meditation.

Working with similar energetic projects has become a necessity for me. I have a feeling as if I was communicating with a power standing outside me, mediating energy of finer frequency to the surrounding world. This is a ritual that secures total peace of mind and an inner balance to the architect and all participants. I perceive this as a beginning of a long journey, only a few of the above-mentioned projects are being built or will soon be. There will probably be new temple projects, which as elaborate cosmic machinery would gather and focus universal energy, like ancient pyramids, Chinese pagodas, Tibetan stupas and magic Celtic stone circles. The world is becoming more spiritual and the new people are obviously going to need new space. It seems that something Momentous is under way.

Vilen KünnapuVilen Künnapu

Vilen Künnapu is an architect and university lecturer living in Tallinn. See also his articles “A Happy Morning” (Epifanio 1/2005) and “The Nature of Architecture” (Epifanio 2/2005).