KOKO was founded in 2000 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. EXPO2000 is long forgotten but if to look back at the essence of that success then the formula of it has in general remained the same – to analyse the space and the impacts within. The concept of the pavilion was born as a combination of restrictions and imaginable possibilities – Estonia as a young country needed conceptual recognition, there were no worldwide known brands nor products that could be linked to Estonia so the pavilion could as well be as high as the Germans allowed so it would be seen over the European Boulevard as far as possible.
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.
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