Young Architect Award goes to KOKO architects

On 12 February at the General Assembly of the Estonian Association of Architects held at KUMU art museum President Toomas Hendrik Ilves announced the recipients of the Young Architect Award: Raivo Kotov and Andrus Kõresaar of KOKO architects.

“The award, serving as encouragement for young architects, is intended to recognize both our great architectural heritage as well as strong architectural education. It is an award for creativity and free, courageous thinking,” explains President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. “Just as today’s nominees, all the recipients so far have always been eager to express their opinion and speak up. In addition to the courage to create, an architect needs to have the courage and strength to stand behind their ideas and creations. Who else but you, knows that your work is like a public education, meant to bring contemporary solutions to the people.”

It is already the sixth year for the Young Architect Award. The award is given to an innovative architect under 40 years of age who is working in Estonia and whose work has contributed to making Estonian architecture known in the world. The Young Architect Award is held by the Estonian Association of Architects in cooperation with Heldur Meerits and Go Travel, who present the winner with a €5,000 travel allowance to a destination of their choice.

“The YAA is a great recognition in the area of architecture, especially as it is not centred around a single object or building, but acknowledges our entire young team. It is a very important stimulus for an architect to know that their work is valued,” said Raivo Kotov, recipient of the Award.

“As in our daily work we are often faced with limited resources and options, it makes us feel so much better when the work and ideas realized gain some attention.  We are grateful for this recognition,” added recipient Andrus Kõresaar.

“KOKO’s works are striking yet tasteful and loved equally by both critics and clients, which is not as common as one would assume. With them it is apparent right away that, in spite of being young architects, they have achieved a lot,” explained Heldur Meerits, a member of the jury. “Estonian architecture will remain viable while there is young talent. Still, talent needs a place to be seen and recognized – which is why the Young Architect Award was inaugurated. Among other things, our aim is to widen the horizons of young architects, which is why the prize – in addition to honour and fame – includes an opportunity to travel and see how different ideas are used around the world.

In the case of KOKO architects, Raivo Kotov and Andrus Kõresaar, the jury emphasized their creativity, stability and result-orientation. KOKO has primarily become known through their sophisticated reconstruction projects. Their best known works include the Fahle house, Rotermann carpenter’s workshop, Seaplane Harbour, Museum for Puppet Arts, Great Guild Hall, Metro Plaza, Tallinn TV Tower, Tallinn Synagogue, Georg Ots Spa Hotel and so on. In 2013, KOKO architects received the highest European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award for the restoration of the Seaplane Harbour hangars.

A non-monetary special award was also given out at the General Assembly of the Estonian Association of Architects. This was awarded to Toomas Paaver who according to the jury and as a versatile practising architect has invested a lot of energy in the coherence and atmosphere of public spaces as well as quality issues important for locals. With his work he has been able to influence the development of the spaces being created significantly more than through single projects.

The Estonian Association of Architects also awarded Rein Grünbach with an honorary medal. Grünbach is an art teacher at Viljandi Jakobson Senior Secondary School, who has sparked a deeper interest in architecture and art among many of his students including Andrus Kõresaar and Raivo Kotov.