Tuupala Timber School
Kajaani, a town of 37000 inhabitants, is the capital of Kainuu region in Eastern Finland. Lehtikangas is a suburb a few kilometres south from the town centre. The monumental figure of the new education and community centre of Lehtikangas stands out from its surroundings. A canyon-like space between the two main volumes of the building invites the approaching visitor to the main entrance. As one steps inside, the canyon proves to be a dramatically flowing and meandering gorge-like space which functions as a common restaurant area and forms the functional core of the building.
On the northern side of the gorge are the lower and upper-level comprehensive schools of 800 pupils. Gymnasium, library, day-care centre, wood and metalworking shops, and auxiliary spaces house the larger volume on the southern side. Following the new national curriculum, the different educational units are open and transformable and can be combined and grouped in multiple ways. Also, the gymnasium and restaurant area can be combined as a large event space.
Robust, hand moulded, grey brick as the main building material and smooth and organic spatial forms make an interesting juxtaposition that gives the building its distinctive character. Almost fortress-like walls in the inside are balanced by light-coloured walls and birch detailing. According to the architects, the gorge is also a metaphor for a current of civilization, which slowly breaks through even the hardest rock.
Text: Petteri Kummala