Wooden house in Kalamaja, in keeping with an area of cultural and environmental value

Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Client: Asunik OÜ
Commission: 2003
Completed: 2005
Size: 800 m2

Experts consider this wooden house built on an old limestone foundation, located in the popular Kalamaja district to be a great example of adding new architecture to a historic working class area in a delicate, yet fresh way.

The dimensions of the building, located on the outer perimeter of Vabriku Street, in a long line of century-old workers’ housing, are modelled according to those of the neighbouring buildings and the historic architecture of the area. The facade is moderately strict and uniform, not trying to stand out. At the same time the design is fresh and simple, presenting itself as an example of contemporary architecture in the surrounding urban environment.

There are ten apartments in the house, located around a central hallway both on the first two floors as well as on the highest floor with lofts. The spacious French balconies, which on the top floor are transformed into dormers, provide great lighting. The historic limestone foundation surrounds the basement of the building, which has storage spaces for all the flats.

It was a conscious decision by KOKO architects to design a house that would blend seamlessly into its environment. In hindsight, it seems that applying a conservative approach has proved successful – even the most traditionalist heritage protection experts have not made any serious objections.

The house was highly praised in the media and was one of the first exciting new development projects in Kalamaja, thus contributing to the increased popularity of the area. Even a decade later, KOKO’s design is still relevant.

Text: Carl-Dag Lige

Best new building in an area of cultural and environmental value 2004 (The Cultural Heritage Department of Tallinn)