Haapsalu Castle nominated for EU Mies Award 2022


Haapsalu Castle is a nominee of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2022. This time, 449 designs have been nominated for the prestigious award, including 7 from Estonia.

The award is a recognition to reward top-quality architecture and encourage promising architectural talents.

We have also been nominated for that award earlier, with our design of the Pilgrims’ House.

WOW Centre and Kindergarten in Pärnu nominated for year’s concrete building award


Two designs by KAOS Architects – WOW Centre in Kuressaare and kindergarten in Pärnu – have been nominated for the Estonian Concrete Building of the Year 2020 award.

One of Estonia’s most modern kindergarten buildings on Raja street in Pärnu is geometrically complex and outstanding with its circular floor plan and pitched roofs. The building was designed entirely as a 3D model. Its load-bearing structure is of monolithic reinforced concrete, and the roof of the swimming pool is supported by beautiful undulant laminated beams. The kindergarten was recently elected as Pärnu’s achievement of the year 2020.

WOW in Kuressaare is a two-storey business and entertainment centre with a simple and logical spatial solution. The entrances are accentuated with impressive curved spatial incisions, which are set back from the façades to form large niches. The wavy forms extend to the glass sections that ‘peek’ out from the edges of the homogeneous façade.

Park Hotel Viljandi and Haapsalu Castle chosen as readers’ favourites


At the Estonian Architectural Awards ceremony on 6 December, the favourite projects of the year, chosen by readers of the Delfi news and opinions website, and, were announced. Our award-winning deconversion of Park Hotel Viljandi and remodelling of Haapsalu Castle were named among the audience’s favourites.

Those two honours indicate that Park Hotel Viljandi and the renewed Haapsalu Castle have been well received among locals and visitors.

Two awards for KAOS Architects


On 6 December at the ceremony of Estonian Architecture Awards 2019, KAOS Architects were rewarded with the Annual Award of the Estonian Association of Interior Achitects and the annual Remodelling Award of the Architecture Endowment of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

The latter award was presented to KAOS Architects for three projects: Haapsalu Castle, the Estonian Embassy in Moscow and Park Hotel Viljandi. The award of the Estonian Association of Interior Architects was made for the deconversion of Park Hotel Viljandi.

The award of the Cultural Endowment was commented on by the jury as follows: ‘The jury recognises KAOS Architects for three integral remodelling projects: the visiting centre and museum at Haapsalu Castle, Park Hotel Viljandi and the Estonian Embassy in Moscow. Delicate treatment of details, respectful attitude to heritage, professional integration of old and new architectural languages into a whole. KAOS’s works provide equal opportunities to layers created in different eras. In addition to the respectfulness, something sharp and innovative has always been introduced to keep the intrigue up and encourage a serious revision of the habitual picture.’

The awards are as if a birthday present for KAOS Architects, established exactly a decade ago by Margit Argus and Margit Aule. By now, the firm has extensive experience in creating modern experimental architecture, often in dialogue with heritage.

The award-winning projects show once again that best results come through cooperation. We are grateful to everyone who participated in those projects, and would like to extend our special thanks to our clients for trusting us, the masterful builders and other cooperation partners. Our thanks also go to the Cultural Endowment and the Estonian Association of Interior Achitects. We are honoured by the recognition.

Haapsalu Castle opens doors to the medieval age


Today, the renovated Episcopal Castle and its Castle Museum were opened in Haapsalu. The 13th-century castle is among the best preserved fortresses in Estonia. The conservation and renovation works saved the monument from deterioration and converted it into a modern visiting centre to serve as an important milestone in developing tourism in the region.

The conservation and renovation design has resulted in a journey along the walls and inside the castle, inviting the guests to take a look at the castle structure and the picturesque town of Haapsalu from an unusual vantage point high above, and to experience the medieval environment from another level. The gardens on the roof terraces, the path floating along the walls and the elegant pavilion bring in freshness and provide a contrast to the dark and stony exhibition inside.

In addition to the task of finding an architectural balance, the renovation process was quite a challenge technologically: there were a lot of problems to be solved, including those concerning indoor climate or different materials. It was an honour for us to participate in this project. We would like to thank the Foundation of Haapsalu and Läänemaa Museums, AS Restor and the rest of the project team for fantastic cooperation.

Head designer, interior architecture, architecture, exhibition design: KAOS Architects (Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Elo-Liina Kaivo, Laura Ojala)

Conservation: Vana Tallinn (Elo Sova)

Structural engineering: Ehitusekspertiisibüroo (Tõnu Vana, Tiit Bürkland)

Landscape design: Kristiina Hellström

Heating, ventilation, water and sewerage systems: Hevac

Electricity: Edites

Lighting design: Marko Kuusik, Siim Porila

Graphic identity: Katri Haarde (KAAK) and Jaana Davidjants

Graphic design: Stuudio Stuudio

Constructor: Restor

Principal: Foundation of Haapsalu and Läänemaa Museums

Renewed Estonian Embassy in Moscow opens today


The renewed Estonian Embassy in Moscow opens today. Four and a half years of intense designing and construction supervision for a site of such historic and political importance as the Moscow Embassy was an intriguing challenge.

The slate was not clean, neither spatially nor mentally. Estonians have been using this building for nearly a century. Notional and physical layers from different periods are fascinatingly recognisable. The spaciousness of what used to be a rich merchant’s mansion (the older section, designed in 1903) juxtaposes itself with the low ceilings in a former Soviet-era guest house (i.e. the newer section or the annexe, completed in 1982).

The building was already there but it needed to be modernised in spatial terms with emphases on highlighting the dignity and grandeur of the older section and creating a space where Estonia’s representatives in Moscow could do their work. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is an expert client who knows the exact functions of the building, the exact needs and requirements.

The building stretches through the entire block, the old section being situated at Malyy Kislovskiy pereulok while the annexe extends towards Kalashnyy pereulok. Our job was to provide a more detailed solution for the interface between the two volumes and to bring more light and roominess into the central part of the building. The two sections are now interconnected with a new broad staircase, large panelled doors worthy of Moscow’s scale and an airy skylighted space.

Classic buildings at Kislovskiy street in Moscow are traditionally painted light blue. However, on the basis of historic paint sampling and analysis, we decided to make the old section’s exterior ochre, which matches up with the dolomite façades of the new part and the natural oak window frames throughout the building.

The interior architecture is rendered warm and lively by herringbone oak parquet used on the walls. The numerous art gems and furniture preserved in the building are like a cross-section of the embassy’s history, which is now thematically reflected in the interior design in the form of different environments where period details serve to represent former systems of rule and social circumstances. For example, we have pieced together stylistically authentic rooms here on the model of those of the early days of the Republic of Estonia. A playful approach of such kind has resulted in narrative rooms that can respectfully exhibit the preserved furniture and works of art while meeting the requirements for a modern working environment. The truly festive and beautiful ballroom will be used to host Estonian Independence Day receptions with nearly 300 guests every year.

Our thanks go to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Riigi Kinnisvara AS and Nordeo E AS.

KAOS Architects take Estonian Association of Architects’ Annual Award


The Annual Award 2018 of the Estonian Association of Architects was presented to KAOS Architects for the Pilgrims’ House in Vastseliina, completed in May 2018. The authors of the Pilgrims’ House were Toomas Adrikorn, Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Kaiko Kerdmann and Laura Ojala. Our thanks go to everyone who contributed their time and efforts to this building.

The laureate of the annual award was decided by the renowned Finnish architect Sami Rintala, who described the Pilgrims’ House as follows: ‘The building feels very integral by how it appears in the landscape when it is approached and by the view of the surroundings as seen from the inside. From the location to the details, from the clothes racks to the technological solutions of the exhibition, all elements seem to work together nicely. It is a successful abstraction of the medieval setting, without being romantic, or at least overly romantic. We can see what is new and what represents the old in a smart and balanced way. It is a building that left a very positive impression.’

Pilgrims’ House opens in Vastseliina


The new building in the medieval experience centre in Vastseliina, Võru county, south-eastern Estonia, will shed some light on how pilgrims spent their nights, how they ate, why they travelled, and a number of other topics.

Client: Vastseliina Piiskopilinnuse SA
Authors: KAOS Architects (Toomas Adrikorn, Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Kaiko Kerdmann, Laura Ojala)
Engineers: Projekt O2
Graphic design: Katri Haarde
Constructor: Eviko
Digital solutions: TMD
Custom-made furniture and exhibits: Riksen
Medieval stove: Oldschool

Project ‘Pollen’ realized in Estonia as part of Estonia 100


Today, 16 sculptures across Estonia received a blue, black and white striped hat or scarf. The idea was produced by Marceau Couve and KAOS Architects.

The project, which originally placed second in the competition for an international installation to mark the 100th anniversary of the Estonian State, was now materialised in Estonia. On the occasion of the centenary of the Republic, the Estonian Tricolour (blue, black and white) has landed all over the country like pollen. Existing sculptures belonging to Estonia’s heritage, like ‘Hämarik’ in the heart of Tallinn or the Lion in the city of Narva, have been reactivated in this manner.

The statues to be pollinated with hats or scarves were selected somewhat randomly in a good sense, and the semantic field has been left open, as the idea of Estonia is extensive. The pollination has been dignified, though, with the touch of the authors of the project, the knitters and those who placed the hats and scarves.

The scarves and hats were made by knitters of Põlva Handicrafts Club, Hiiumaa Handicrafts Society, MTÜ Omaabi, and Uljas & Daughters.

KAOS Architects take 1st prize in design contest for aquatic centre


KAOS Architects won the 1st prize in the architectural contest for a new aquatic centre building in downtown Viljandi, southern Estonia.

The aquatic centre will be accessible from Kaalu, Vaksali and Tallinna streets and form one complex together with the existing sports facility and tennis hall. The new building will be set back from the street to accommodate a green square with evening sunlight in front of the main entrance at Kaalu street. This area will be a source of space for the architecture as well as for people, the vegetation and benches.

The building will have a simple form and be low by its nature since the rooms will be on a single level mostly. As it is not reasonable to place swimming pools above one another, we have designed the building as a solid slab with the upper and lower surfaces each varying in height as if to create a landscape. The northern end of the aquatic centre will be elevated above the ground level while inside that part of the building, jacuzzis and deck chairs will be enjoying the evening sun.

The simple volume will be organised by axes of movement, including an interior street that will allow entry from different sides of the building. The interior street will be crossed by two other axes interconnecting the lobby, water facilities, saunas, locker rooms and swimming pool. The stairs of the interior street will feature built-in seats to provide a space for hanging around, e.g. for children or youth.

The winning entry, authored by Laura Ojala, Katrin Vilba and Margit Aule, was submitted in cooperation with Projekt O2.


3rd prize in design contest for stairs between Pirogov Park and Tähetorni square in Tartu


An architectural design contest was held by the city of Tartu in southern Estonia for a better connection between Pirogov park and the observatory square (Tähetorni plats) on Toomemägi hill, all in the very centre of the city. Pirogov park and the nearby town hall square (Raekoja plats) are both popular as hangouts. For that reason, KAOS Architects’ design was based on an idea to create, instead of just narrow stairs, a wider connecting area with a staired square that could be used for sitting, staying and hanging out. In terms of city space, the notional axis from the town hall square to the old observatory is not a straight line but rather winding, and so was the set of stairs proposed by KAOS Architects.

The results of the design contest were announced on 11 November 2016. KAOS Architects were awarded the 3rd prize.

KAOS Architects nominated for annual award of interior architecture


The Estonian Mining Museum in Kohtla-Nõmme, Eastern Estonia, and the Estonian Embassy in London, UK, have been nominated for the annual award of the Estonian Association of Interior Architects. The winners will be announced on 9 December 2016.

KAOS Architects at Open House London 2016


KAOS Architects have been invited to Open House London 2016, which will be held during this year’s London Design Festival. On 17 and 18 September, the Estonian Embassy in London will open its doors to everyone. Margit Argus from KAOS Architects will speak about the design and construction of the embassy building.

The Estonian Embassy in London is located in Kensington, in a neoclassical house which was built in 1857 and used originally for residential purposes. Many of the original elements are still preserved, including the cornices, decor, fireplaces and doors.

We enhanced the historical interior with views of Estonia’s primeval nature, to convey a message of quietude and tranquility. The static images of our homeland’s foggy bogscapes make the mind wander far away to a dreamy northern serenity, telling a story about mysterious Estonia and its pristine nature.


2nd prize in design competition for Mustamäe District Government building


KAOS Architects have won the 2nd prize in the architectural competition for the building of district government and cultural centre in Mustamäe, Tallinn.

The new Estonian Embassy building completed in London


On 14 October 2015, the new building of the Estonian Embassy in London was opened at 44 Queen’s Gate Terrace. The neoclassical house was built in 1857 and used originally for residential purposes. The new interior architectural design for the embassy building was created by KAOS Architects.

This time, we used a poetic approach, inspired by our land’s beautiful wilderness. Estonia is a country of wetlands, lakes and forests. Pristine nature is apparently the purest force that connects us and ties our origins together.

The Embassy is a small piece of Estonia in the centre of London, and the primeval landscapes of its interior are like a letter from home. The peat bogs on the walls, chairs and carpets, the thicket, and birches hidden in the chandeliers are Estonia’s language, which needs no translation.

KAOS Architects win Brussels design competition


KAOS Architects have won the design competition for the reception area and extension of the Permanent Representation of Estonia to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, at Rue Guimard 11/13. The new section will be situated in the inner courtyard and accommodate conference and reception areas.

The existing courtyard is blocked by walls. As a result of the new solution, anyone in the courtyard will be fully surrounded by the newly designed aesthetic environment: the view from the barbecue house will include the conference section and the view from the conference section will include the new handsome barbecue house.

The new architectural solution is combined into a whole by its graduality: there will be an emergency exit path from the roof of the extension into the courtyard, and the steps can also be used for sitting.

The architectural and interior architectural solutions were authored by Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Katrin Vilba and Siim Karro.

Consolation prize in design competition for ministeral building


Today, the results of the architectural design competition for the Ministries Building at Suur-Ameerika 1, Tallinn, Estonia, were publicised. A consolation prize was awarded to the entry ‘Duaal’, submitted by KAOS Architects and ASUM Architects (Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Katrin Vilba).

KAOS Architects’ entry was characterised by the jury as ‘visually modern, emanating a certain freshness. A literal comparison with a heap of papers would not be an exaggeration.’

As the authors of ‘Duaal’ elaborate their vision, ‘In terms of urban planning, the new Ministerial Building would be located on an important axis and be well observable. The positions had been fixed already by earlier designs and detailed plans; the new face that we propose would be light and structured in a friendly manner. The multiple cornices would serve a practical purpose, providing for shades against the sunlight. By their appearance, the towers would convey a message of a green, sustainable and friendly city. The sparkle of the airy general impression would be further refined by the green glass and greenery on terraces. Elegance would be provided by the dark grey window frames and use of the partially dark grey exterior materials.’

Nominated by the Estonian Association of Interior Architects


The Estonian Association of Interior Architects has announced the nominees for its annual awards of 2014–2015. Three works by KAOS Architects have been considered worthy of nomination by the jury.

The remodelled Energy Discovery Centre has been nominated in the category of historical interiors.

Design competition for Raua 28 apartment house won by KAOS Architects


KAOS Architects (Margit Aule, Katrin Vilba and Margit Argus) won the invited architectural competition for designing the apartment house at Raua 28, Tallinn, Estonia. We offered a solid, tranquil solution for the dignified neighbourhood in the city centre. The jalousies of the balconies facing Raua Street will add privacy to the residential apartments while the tonality of the materials meshes with the surrounding buildings. We are planning to complete the design of the house, which will have 1500 square metres of net floor area, in 2015–2016.

Design contest for remodelling Haapsalu castle won by KAOS Architects


The design contest for remodelling the ancient bishop’s castle in the town of Haapsalu (in western Estonia) was won by KAOS Architects with their entry entitled ‘Secret Garden’, created by Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Mart Kadarik and Siim Karro.

The jury’s decision was unanimous. ‘The winning design caught the eye with a bold and inventive solution, taking the visitors to dizzy heights in the north-west corner of the main castle and allowing them to enter areas that were formerly restricted. The solution seems difficult to implement at first glance but may turn out an exciting journey, opening unseen views of the castle yard as well as the town and the sea from the observation balconies, which will be placed in existing window apertures,’ noted the jury.

According to one of the authors, Margit Aule, the distinctive architectural substance of the main castle is best experienced by moving around in this space both horizontally and vertically. ‘A modern museum has to offer not just images and texts but an impression for all the senses.’

Margit Argus elaborates, ‘The new entrance pavilion, modestly nested within the volume of the castle, almost appears to be peeking out curiously from behind the wall. A spatial solution of such kind will add the missing link, functionally integrating the space: it will connect the levels, ensuring access to the basement, level one and the roof. It will be the beginning and the end of the journey.’

The design contest was aimed at concluding a remodelling design contract for Haapsalu Episcopal Castle with the winner of the contest on the basis of the winning design.

Main building of Kohtla mining park now open


After decades of idleness, the former sorting and loading station of Kohtla mining complex, now a museum, has undergone thorough renovation. In addition to the fascinating exhibition, the building has a new function: it is now the start and end point of all visits to Kohtla mining park.

The interior architecture and exhibition were designed by KAOS Architects (Margit Argus and Margit Aule).

‘Working out the concept was easy for us. The old factory department enthused us as soon as we saw it and as avid admirers of industrial heritage, we were left with a spatial impression that became our primary source of inspiration,’ said Margit Aule.

‘Our design provides for the preservation of the existing plant and room structure to a maximum extent. A spectacular effect is created already by the view from the entrance, extending through the open space to the old rusty gapes, which were used to route oil shale from the bin to the railway wagon. We also integrated the exhibits into the existing machinery in order to give dominance to the room rather than to the added elements,’ commented Margit Argus.

The exhibition extends through five levels, and besides the history of the mining park, the visitor will learn about oil shale and power engineering in general.

Consolation prize from design contest fro Tõrva Central Square


Our work ‘Jõemaastik’ (‘Riverscape’) earned a consolation prize in the architectural design competition for the central square of the town of Tõrva, southern Estonia. According to the jury, the entry caught attention by introducing a river valley through Noorus park up to the lake of Veskijärv. ‘Jõemaastik’ was authored by Toomas Adrikorn, Margit Aule and Liisa Valdmann.

The competition was aimed at converting Tõrva’s central square, Noorus park and its immediate surroundings into a multifunctional, attractive public space, uniting different neighbourhoods of Tõrva.

We based our vision on the point that Tõrva’s landscape has been moulded by flowing water. A beautiful riverscape traverses Tõrva as a dominant spatial element, giving the town its characteristic appearance together with the lakes. In a wider sense, even the public space and green areas flow through the town like a river. We emphasised this association in our entry.

We modelled a new space by means of a landscape that looks as if it has been created by flowing water, opening access to water from the central square. The water that has shaped the landscape and valley need not be visible, as it has already done its work. Now there is just the landscape and a memory of water. We added some air in our entry by redefining the central square, planning a spatial incision in the Noorus park area and thereby connecting the square and the lake, both visually and physically.

Energy Discovery Centre receives special award


The remodelled Energy Discovery Centre, designed by KAOS Architects and realised by AS Restor, has been honoured by the Estonian Museums Board with the 2014 special award for restoring a museum as a cultural monument, announced the Ministry of Culture on 30 January 2015.

The award, given for the first time, was decided in cooperation with the Heritage Conservation Committee of the Museums Board. The jury pointed out that the team restoring the Energy Discovery Centre, which is accommodated in a former power station, ‘aimed at and succeeded in preserving the historical turbines, the raised platform and other installations that mark the one-time production environment and enrich the industrial interior’.

KAOS Architects win 1st prize for new interior of TTK University of Applied Sciences


KAOS Architects authored the winning entry of the design contest for new interior architecture of TTK University of Applied Sciences (Tallinna Tehnikakõrgkool). The design has been created by Margit Argus and Margit Aule, assisted by Kaur Käärma, and the graphic design was produced by Janar Siniloo.

The design contest was aimed at finding a modern and open solution for the interior of the university building, originally constructed in 1953 as an example of Socialist Classicism, or Stalinism, in architecture.

The winning design was characterised by the jury as novel, functional and lightful, organically uniting the indoor and outdoor spaces of the main building and meeting the university’s image goals of openness and youthfulness. The introduction of integrated areas in common use was rated highly by the jury: a new ‘traffic junction’ has been envisaged for the heart of the school by a bold rearrangement of common rooms.

Today, the building leaves a stern and gloomy impression. The conceptual design proposed by KAOS Architects maintains the grandiosity of the space but intervenes in order to open it, improve it in terms of functionality and bring in freshness with the colourful additions to the interior.

Energy Discovery Centre remodelled


On 12 June 2014, the Energy Discovery Centre in Tallinn will be opened in its remodelled form, which has been designed by KAOS Architects (as the main contractor) after we won the open design contest, held in 2010.

‘We were inspired by historical photos from the 1920s displaying the turbine hall in its full black-and-white beauty,’ explains Margit Argus, one of the authors. ‘So we aimed at restoring the old glory and, since it is an industrial building, the interactive scientific exhibits fit into this environment in an excellent manner,’ added Margit Aule. The black-and-white turbine hall features various exhibits concentrated onto a platform in the middle of the room; together with the old turbines, they seemingly form one big black machine. That machine, in turn, keeps a respectful distance from the splendid white walls.

The Energy Discovery Centre will have seven permanent exhibitions on energy, classical physics, acoustics, optics and other topics, totalling in over 100 interactive exhibits. The flagship feature is unique in Europe: a Tesla coil in a Faraday cage, allowing to create lightnings of up to 3 metres in length.

The architecture and interior design have been created by Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Sander Aas and Pelle-Sten Viiburg.

The building has an area of 3800 square metres and the construction was carried out by AS Restor. The remodelling of the science centre, financed by Enterprise Estonia and Eesti Energia, cost €3.7 million.