Finland’s ‘School of the future’ prioritizes collaboration and interaction

January 10, 2017 by  
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Finland is well known for its innovative, personalized education system that is regarded among the best in the world. Now the country is also giving attention to the school buildings themselves, and how they could better engage young learners. Of note is the Saunalahti school in the city of Espoo. The fluid space designed by Verstas Architects looks more like a contemporary art space than a basic, if not dreary, brick and mortar public school building. All of the elements are purposefully designed in order to create a more positive learning experience for both children and the community. The school’s atmosphere, both inside and outside, is one of a warm welcome and connection with nature . The large windows mean that students need not feel disconnected or far from the outdoors. The brickwork was intentionally arranged in different building methods and in random patterns to help encourage the children’s learning. Each hallway is a distinct color, to help avoid getting lost. Notably absent are any fences.The unconventional learning space lends itself toward the inclusive, collaborative approach Finland’s education system is well known for. Related: Finland is giving 2,000 citizens a free basic income Across this 10,500 square meters of the school, students are invited to have open discussions, and sit comfortably as they choose. The cafeteria, shared by both teachers and students, doubles as a theater . The school’s open spaces are intentional-to inspire students to walk around and engage with one another. The school also plays a role in the wider community, and is open to all citizens of the community after school hours. The overall affect is one of learning without walls. The school, thanks to its design, sets a tone for students to thrive. + Saunalahti School Via Arch Daily

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Finland’s ‘School of the future’ prioritizes collaboration and interaction

Copper-clad chapel is a beacon of unity in one of Helsinkis most multicultural districts

January 9, 2017 by  
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In the long, dark, and cold winters of Helsinki , the Suvela Chapel shines bright as a welcoming, multi-faith space for one of the most multicultural districts in the metropolitan region. Located in the Suvela neighborhood of Espoo, where roughly a third of the residents are of foreign descent, the recently completed chapel was designed by architecture firm OOPEAA to serve as a multifunctional center that a diverse community can use together regardless of religious affiliation. The striking building is entirely clad in gleaming copper to emphasize unity; the material was also selected for its durability and recyclability. Commissioned by the Espoo Parish Union, the Suvela Chapel is used jointly by the Espoo Parish Union, the Swedish Parish of Espoo, and the City of Espoo to serve a diverse community. OOPEAA was tasked to create an eye-catching building with a strong identity of its own that would be welcoming to people of varying backgrounds and flexible enough to accommodate a number of activities. “Due to the relatively long, dark, and cold winters, communal indoor spaces play an important role as places for people to gather in Finland,” writes OOPEAA. “Providing schools, libraries and churches as places where people can come together on the common ground of a shared space has deep roots in the cultural tradition of Finland. The Suvela Chapel is part of this tradition.” Related: Stunning Seashore Chapel in China appears to float at high tide Located next to a local community park, the chapel is laid out like a horseshoe that wraps around an intimate interior courtyard . In addition to its copper exterior, the building is constructed from concrete and steel, while the interiors are mostly clad in locally-sourced spruce to inject a sense of warmth. Timber is also used in the outdoor canopies and, together with the copper panels, will develop a beautiful patina over time. The different functions of the chapel are laid out on one level and include a chapel hall, belfry, offices, meeting and group work spaces, areas for children and the youth, including afternoon child care and day care, activity rooms for local community clubs, and a soup kitchen. The Suvela Chapel was awarded bronze in the American Architecture Prize 2016 and was one of four finalist candidates nominated for the Finlandia Prize in Architecture in 2016. + OOPEAA Via Dezeen Images via OOPEAA

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Copper-clad chapel is a beacon of unity in one of Helsinkis most multicultural districts

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