verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
photo by andreas meichsner
all images courtesy of verstas architects

 

 

 

‘saunalahti comprehensive school’ built by finnish practice verstas architects, has been designed to provide a progressive educational environment, placing a special emphasis on new ways of learning; encouraging interaction, discussion and collaboration. furthermore, the building caters for the region’s residents, providing a public library, gym and various workshops open at evenings and weekends.

 

 

verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
the multifunctional building will be open to the public at evenings and weekends
photo by andreas meichsner

 

 

 

working closely with the end user, the architects considered the effect that a school’s design can have on the educational experience, ensuring every area of the scheme functions as a potential place for studying. classrooms are grouped around small scale lobbies which can be used for group work, while the program of spaces encourages students to continue learning outside of lessons.

 

 

verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
the façades comprise a collage of different brick-laying and bonding techniques
photo by andreas meichsner

 

 

 

externally, the undulating copper roof reflects the soft natural terrain of the finnish landscape, whilst providing light for the volumes below. large concrete walls, cast on-site, support the high oak-veneered ceilings, while expansive glazing openly displays the building’s interiors, promoting the sense of inclusivity which permeates the design.

 

 

verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
the playground is grouped into smaller areas to cater for the wide ranging age of students
photo by tuomas uusheimo

 

 

 

the playground is divided into smaller zones which serve the needs of differently aged children. yards for younger pupils are oriented toward the morning sun, while the older students, whose day continues later into the afternoon, receive the last rays of sunlight over the lowest part of the structure.

 

 

verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
a subtle color palette is used to ensure an atmosphere appropriate for learning
photo by andreas meichsner

 

 

 

‘the openness and the sense of community can also be seen in the architecture’, says ilkka salminen a partner at verstas architects. ‘the heart of the building, the multi-purpose dining hall is the space where all users meet. it opens up to the large school yard like an amphitheater.’

 

 

verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
a large glazed wall helps connect the external spaces with the interior
photo by andreas meichsner

 

 

 

the proposal also incorporates a number of energy efficient initiatives, including heat recovery ventilation and carefully regulated lighting systems, while solar power helps provide the school with a source of renewable energy.

 

 

verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
circulation spaces have unique signal colors to aid orientation
photo by andreas meichsner

 

 

verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
classrooms are grouped around small scale lobbies which can be used for group work
photo by andreas meichsner

 

 

 

project info:

 

location: brinkinmäentie 1, espoo, finland
completed: 2012
floor area: 10,500 sqm (113,021 sqf)
client: city of espoo
main contractor: yit rakennus oy
architectural design: verstas architects

 

principals: väinö nikkilä, jussi palva, riina palva, ilkka salminen
project architects: jari saajo, ville nurkka, aapo airas
interior design: karola sahi in collaboration with verstas architects
landscape architecture: milla hakari, pia kuusiniemi / LOCI maisema-arkkitehdit oy in collaboration with verstas architects
other team members at verstas architects: antti carlson, ossi konttinen, charlotte nyholm, sampsa palva, esmeralda ståhlberg