The Greenest Block of Flats
Jätkäsaari is a former dock area on the south-west side of the city centre in Helsinki. The area is ongoing re-development as a residential and workplace district. When completed in the mid-2020s, there will be homes for approximately 17 000 residents and 6 000 jobs. The new comprehensive school of 800 pupils and almost 100 teachers also serves as a multi-purpose building for the district’s community.
Jätkäsaari School was constructed based on a winning competition entry “Nemo” by Erkko Aarti, Arto Ollila and Mikki Ristola from AOR Architects. The block-like rectangular volume of the Jätkäsaari School sets it apart from contemporary Finnish school design and represents its latest evolution. The compact three-stories high mass responds to the dense urban structure that surrounds it. Building’s distinctive appearance is highlighted by the relief pattern on the facades which is created with innovative use of a few different small rectangular concrete elements, some of which function as windows. Jätkäsaari school operates in a flexible, communal and reactive manner. Pedagogical emphasis is on learning instead of teaching, and architecture supports this goal.
The central lobby, lit by sculptural skylights, with large auditorium stairs and a stage, forms the heart of the building. Learning spaces surround the lobby on three floors. Due to its compact, rectangular plan, the spatial organization of the building is easy to comprehend as well as efficient minimizing the need for corridors. Open and transparent interiors and balconies that surround the lobby enhance interaction and co-operation between pupils and are meant to encourage individual learning as well as making things together.
The schoolyard is designed by Näkymä Landscape Architects. The world map and the vegetation zones inspired the design choices.
Text: Petteri Kummala