AGO
careful experimentation
Berlin, DE

AGO organically evolved to a framework of methods and processes through a series of collaborations and projects. They are an architecture and design office based in Berlin founded by Taneli Mansikkamäki, a Finnish architect. Taneli’s work is based on architectural forms addressing the minimum partition and the importance of context, resources and renewables in construction.

Starting with a holistic design project

AGO was never decisively founded on a singular day, it has slowly evolved from a series of collaborations between people from the Architectural Association in London UK. We started by working together with several people we studied with, collaborating usually for small commercial projects based mainly in London. The very first project was actually a restaurant where we designed the concept, interiors and branding and as the first project suddenly caught interest in the architectural community globally, we continued to collaborate.

 

Constantly creating and filtering

A third of all projects we design, never gets built. Then another third gets built but we decide not to publish them and then only the last third are the projects that people might recognise gets published. Our tables and shelves are full of projects of different scales and to avoid cluttering the office, the waste bin is used a lot to clear things out. When it feels too wrong to throw away something, it usually ends up on a large table of curiosity.

 

A new office space

We have recently relocated the practice to Berlin from London so everything is still quite fresh. We are very much looking forward to forming a more strict protocol around the daily routine. I try to keep it simple and efficient so that I can concentrate as much as possible on researching, writing and design. We are currently renovating the new office in Berlin. It will be a ground floor space with a shopfront so it feels quite open and accessible. We have never before existed in such a public place so it will be interesting to know how and if it will change the work we do. Architects might have a bit of a tendency to create ideological and aesthetic bubbles to detach themselves from all the surrounding mess, but I think it is important not to get too locked into one but to reach out as much as possible.

 

Experimenting only where viable

We flirt with the idea that architecture can be subversive and critical but the truth is that it can happen only with projects that are completely detached from the rest of the world which totally undermines the point. Although we like to talk and teach about critical architecture, I don't think such a thing really exists. Although that being said, the projects that we do for festivals such as Concéntrico and other biennales of architecture are truly amazing as they offer us the possibility to step out from the established systems and to speculate.

 

Towards a global community

We are currently developing a concept for a project that truly travels across boundaries, transnationally. A tool that helps with international collaboration and promotes equality across the national borders. In a world that is getting more and more divided we believe that this is the most important topic to reflect on and it is also what we teach in our design studio in the Architectural Association.

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Photography Courtesy of AGO






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