At first glance, Rantakylä Normal School seems to be quite a typical new Finnish school. The term “normal school”, however, implies that in addition to regular practices, the school also operates as a teacher training school for the Master of Education Students. Administratively this means that normal school is part of the university’s faculty of educational sciences.

Rantakylä Normal School is affiliated with the University of Eastern Finland (UEF). The school was built because the UEF decided to move teacher training from Savonlinna to Joensuu. A completely new building was needed to meet the demands of contemporary pedagogical requirements and to provide teacher trainees a learning environment, where they can apply current educational and didactic theory in practice. The building was designed by Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects. It houses 420 pupils in grades 1–9.

In Rantakylä primary school children don’t have their own home classes. Instead, grades 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6 work in “cells”. A cell is a large open space with different nooks and rooms for teamwork. It can also be divided into smaller units by curtains and partitioning walls. The upper comprehensive school has more conventional classroom spaces, which can be connected to enhance co-operation between the grades. Transparency and openness thus define the interior spaces, but also describe how the school operates. Emphasis is on the “pedagogy of doing” for which it is vital that smaller children can observe and see how bigger ones learn and bigger ones can learn from each other.

 

Text: Petteri Kummala

Location

Pataluodonkatu 6, Joensuu
62.6141729, 29.8210076

Images

The site plan, Rantakylä Normal School
The site plan, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)
The cross-sectional drawing, Rantakylä Normal School
The cross-sectional drawing, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)
The cross-sectional drawing, Rantakylä Normal School
The cross-sectional drawing, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)
The main façade, Rantakylä Normal School
The main façade, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)
The hallway, Rantakylä Normal School
The hallway, Rantakylä Normal School (© Hanna Tyvelä)
The educational unit, Rantakylä Normal School
The educational unit, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)
The school library, Rantakylä Normal School
The school library, Rantakylä Normal School (© Hanna Tyvelä)
The hallway, Rantakylä Normal School
The hallway, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)
The teaching space, Rantakylä Normal School
The teaching space, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)
The educational unit, Rantakylä Normal School
The educational unit, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)
The gymnasium, Rantakylä Normal School
The gymnasium, Rantakylä Normal School (© Riitta & Kari Ojala Architects)