The Estonian Association of Architects (EAA) organizes architects, landscape architects and architecture researchers. The EAA is a legal successor of Estonian Association of Architects, established on October 8th, 1921. Among the founders there were Karl Burman sen, Ernst Ederberg, Eugen Habermann, Erich Jacoby, Herbert Johanson, Edgar Johan Kuusik, Ernst Kühnert, Anton Soans, Karl Tarvas, and Franz de Vries. The purpose of the association was to assemble Estonian architects for fostering Estonian architecture.
The EAA organized competitions and exhibitions, published Ehituskäsiraamat (A Builder's Manual, 1932) and Eesti Arhitektide Almanak (Almanac of Estonian Architects, 1934). EAA was a member of International Consortium of Architects, taking part in its congresses and exhibitions. Since 1935, the members of EAA were entitled to join the architecture section of Chamber of Engineers. The Union of Soviet Estonian Architects (USEA) was established in Tallinn in 1945 with branches in Tartu (since 1958), Pärnu (since 1979), and Viljandi (since 1980). USEA also belonged to the Architects’ Union of USSR. The union consisted of departments of urban planning, housing, public building, industrial architecture, rural architecture, architectural heritage and history, interior design, general issues of architecture, theory, criticism, propaganda, and section of young architects. Congress, electing the management board, was the superior body.
In 1955-79 the chairman of the USEA was Mart Port. In 1980 – 1983 the chairman was Voldemar Herkel, in 1984 – 1989 Jüri Jaama. On June 27th, 1989 an independent Union of Estonian Architects was reestablished, stating its legal existence from October 8th, 1921 and thus being the perpetuator of activities and traditions of the Estonian Association of Architects. On November 30th, 1989 Ike Volkov was elected the first chairman of independent UEA.
In 1990s, new enterprises were formed on the basis of UEA – architecture review Maja (House) and catalogue Projekt ja Ehitus (Design and Building), both being published until today. Architecture review Ehituskunst is also continuously published. International relations became more active. The development of UEA was greatly supported by the Society of Estonian Architects in Sweden (active during 1990 – 2002). Relationships were established with the Unions of Finnish and Swedish Architects. In 1993, the UEA was granted membership of the UIA (Union Internationale des Architectes) as a member of BAUA (Baltic Architects Unions Association). Competition activity became more vigorous. On the financial side, beginning of 1990s was tough – with newly established republic, the UEA lost its state support. Since 1995 the activities of the UEA have been supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
Since the end of the 1990s a number of young architects have joined the UEA. In 1992 – 1993 the chairman of the UEA was Margus Koot, in 1994 – 1997 Hain Toss, in 1998 – 2001 Kalle Vellevoog. In 2002 – 2003 Tõnu Laigu, in 2004 – 2005 Margit Mutso, in 2006 –2007 Ülar Mark, and in 2008 – 2009 Ike Volkov. Since 2010 the union is headed by Peeter Pere.
UEA has actively participated in drawing up legislative documents. In 2002, the official architecture policy of Estonia was developed upon initiative of UEA. A major field of activity is copyright issues in architecture, there is a special working party for the subject in the UEA. In 2000 UEA was granted a status of observing member in the ACE (Architects’ Council of Europe); since 2004 it is ACE’s full member. UEA’s representative at ACE has been Andres Levald with Tõnu Laigu, Jüri Soolep and Ingrid Mald-Villand participating in its different workgroups.
UEA’s main field of activity is architecture expertise, concerning both organizing architecture competitions as well as offering expert assessments on particular cases. Besides that, the UEA grants professional qualifications, nominates candidates for annual architecture prizes, etc (see pages of qualifications, competitions, and assessments).
UEA has organized a number of seminars and workshops, e.g info days on detailed plan of Tallinn Vabaduse Square, Pärnu general plan and preliminary design of the Estonian Art Museum in 1999; info days of general plans and development strategies of Tartu, Kuressaare, and Viljandi in 2000, seminar on Tallinn harbour area on 2002; and info days on Pirita general plan and Pirita Road development plans in 2003.
Major events in the last years have been:
UEA has organized a number of exhibitions:
Annual trips to Europe and further have become a tradition. In the last years, UEA has focused its attention to architecture export and projects for abroad, with active involvement by the office partners’ section of the UEA.
Since 2003 each year a documentary “Maja” (The House) showing the nominees of the Cultural Endowmenrt's architecture prize has been issued under the auspices of UEA. The documentaries are also available in DVD format, grouped to years 2002 – 2005 and 2006 – 2007.
The UEA has an active seniors' section which has initiated a number of seminars and architecture trips. Also, a number of events initiated by the seniors' section have bacome a common tradition of the UEA, like a county day each autumn or the UEA anniversary matinée. Pärnu regional branch has also remained active. Lately the youth section was established, and a council of city and county architects is under establishment.