One of the most dedicated and distinctive practices in the new wave of Northern European architecture, KOKO has amassed a portfolio studded with brand-new buildings alongside sensitive restorations of some of the region’s most prized historical gems. KOKO’s particular passion is for the latter – breathing new life into old architecture. The achievements over the last 15 years have netted the firm a number of prestigious European awards, and one of the historical projects received the highest European award for conservation and restoration of cultural heritage – Grand Prix of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards.
Founded in 2000, KOKO enjoyed an international breakthrough with its very first project – the Estonian pavilion at the Hannover World’s Fair. The design – featuring spruce trees on the pavilion roof with carrots for roots, embedded in limestone – felt like a fresh breeze at the time and 16 years later, the practice still receives positive notice for the project.
KOKO’s calling card is its ability to tap into the deeper archetypes and stories behind the buildings, and do it in a way that doesn’t just preserve centuries of history but adds a modern yet timeless twist for just as many years to come. The portfolio is underpinned by a Nordic ethos in mapping the building’s “genome” and finding the ideal point of equilibrium between the old and the new.
One of KOKO’s international best-known landmarks is Fahle House, which won the Estonian Annual Prize for Architecture and was shortlisted for Design of the Year by London Design Museum, represented an ambitious enhancement on a historical structure. KOKO has also designed a number of projects for Tallinn’s Old Town, a UNESCO site. The historical Seaplane Harbour and the Rotermann Carpenter’s Workshop have a new lease on life. KOKO is also the name behind the unique Tallinn Synagogue and the renovation of Tallinn TV tower.
The work of the KOKO architects comes down to the context – history, environment and people. We add as little as possible yet as much as necessary to amplify the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the existing architecture.