- 4 km
Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2015 finalist
Opinmäki school complex forms a central element for an Espoo residential area currently under rapid construction and expansion. Besides kindergarten, primary and junior secondary schools, the centre will house a library, sports hall, adult education centre and a youth centre. The building will be in active use outside school hours and serve all residents in the area.
Extracts from the pre-selection jury statement:
The building consists of nine elements growing progressively larger towards the main entrance, the smallest element being the daycare centre and the two largest the upper-level comprehensive school and the sports hall. A spacious and spatially exciting foyer links the elements while also serving as a canteen. The foyer allows access to the auditorium and all other facilities and is thus the heart of the building. The staircase along the foyer guides internal traffic while forming a splendid dramatic focus in the space and for the building as a whole.
The design of the school follows the model of exploratory learning, where the entire building is a teaching medium. The spaces are arranged so that they allow for the combining of sciences, arts, communication and humanities in teaching. Built on the basis of the entry that won the design competition, the school is the first independent project by an architect just starting his career.
Finnish Architecture Biennial Review 2016 catalogue:
Opinmäki School is a large community centre in the Suurpelto district of Espoo offering a bold interpretation of spatial clarity. The stripped concrete and wood surfaces draw attention to the space and the life taking place inside.
The floor plan is a logical system of adjoining cubes leading from the lobby through to the smallest kindergarten rooms, offering an inspiring environment for independent learning. It currently stands alone in an empty landscape waiting for new buildings to spring up around it. The main entrance – a metal canopy between two massive brick volumes – has a stern demeanour, but this vanishes as we enter the lobby, which is calm and welcoming.
The elegant outdoor-indoor integration of materials makes the building ‘easy to read’. All indoor surfaces repeat a frugal palette of concrete, wood, white paint and metal, allowing users to add their own colours to the space. The classrooms are all-white to help pupils concentrate. There are both traditional and half-open classrooms, helping children learn to focus amid busy modern surroundings. The yards are designed to withstand heavy daily usage by a thousand children: no greenery is planted immediately next to the school.