Vilen Künnapu and Ain Padrik both graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts as architects in 1971. They belonged to the group of young radical architects and artists called the Tallinn School. During the Soviet period, they worked at a large construction company EKE Projekt, building various interesting houses across Estonia.
In 1984 they won a special award at the international competition in Rovaniemi, in Finland, for their Arctic Centre. The project was popular in the press and was, for example, published on the cover of Architectural Review and Arkkitekti. The third author of the project, writer Lennart Meri, later became the first Estonian president after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2001, both architects were awarded the Order of the White Star by him.
In 1988 Künnapu and Padrik came second at the West Coast Gateway competition in Los Angeles. Both entries revealed the tandem’s mystical aspect, which developed further in their subsequent works. In 1992, the company Künnapu & Padrik Architects was established.
In 1994 they complete the Methodist Church in Tallinn, which exhibits the shamanist experience of the Arctic Centre. During the 1990a they produce a number of more pragmatic urban projects – offices and private houses. The more significant among them are the hotel Radisson SAS (1999) and the Viru Centre (2004) in Tallinn. In 2008 the architects complete the Tigutorn (Snail Tower) in Tartu, based on the archetype of the spiral. The architects believe that certain vertical buildings are able to stimulate the movement of cosmic energy. In 2011 the Science Centre AHHAA was built next to the Snail Tower. The Centre relies on the image of Vesica Piscis known in sacred geometry. The two architects participate both in architectural and art exhibitions, spiritual rites and teach architecture at the Tallinn University of applied Sciences.
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