Hotel Viru

  • Communicative Urban Space
  • Viru väljak 4

Hotel Viru was a representative building of Soviet Estonia, intended for accommodating foreign tourists. The hotel was completed in 1972 based on the design by Henno Sepmann and Mart Port. The builders came from Finland. The building was probably designed, using the pattern of the Brazil Parliament Building by Oscar Niemeyer (1960), the articulated high volume and horizontal low part of which are very similar to Hotel Viru.

Interiors of the hotel were designed by Väino Tamm, Vello Asi and Loomet Raudsepp. These were remarkably stylish at that time and represented cool form language of high modernism. Most furniture items were based on the original design.

Vello Asi also designed the illuminated script HOTELL VIRU located in the recess of the uppermost storey of the building. Letters were based on the font Eurostile Bold Extended created by the Italian typographer Aldo Novarese, which was one of the most popular fonts in 1970s with its massive form (example: the logo of Nokia). Illuminated letters of the hotel caused dissatisfaction in the professor of graphics of the Art Institute of that time, who protested that remission of the middle line from the letter E was “inadmissible”. Vello Asi explained that the line just did not fit between the bold horizontal lines.

In 1994 the hotel was sold to the Finnish company SRV, which soon started to destroy the valuable interior. The illuminated script would have also been thrown into garbage, if it had not been part of the architecture under heritage protection.