The first thing one sees when approaching the Lehtikangas Elementary School is a canyon-like space built with grey brick robust and distinguished, yet inviting. As one steps inside the meandering gorge, it transforms into a functional core, a common restaurant space, that is the center of the building and its architectural highlight. The see-through, organically flowing space invites the visitors to wander into the building.
Lehtikangas multifunctional building houses a school, a regional library and a kindergarten. The new building replaces a school that previously stood on the site and combines some of the other public functions of the area. Its architecture stems from the interplay between two rational halves divided by a free-form gorge-like opening.
The library near the entrance supports independent information gathering.Visitors and Library goers are welcome into the public parts of the building as well – comfy sofas beguile visitors to linger for a while and study the collection at their leisure. North of the gorge is the primary and upper comprehensive schools.
On the southern side are the kindergarten, auxiliary spaces, and facilities for physical education, as well as wood and metalworking shops. Combining and grouping the different educational units into an open, transformable and cellular structure supports the current Finnish pedagogical ideals. Light-coloured walls with birch detailing create the serene background needed for daily activities, such as different projects, presentations, and displays.
Meanwhile, glass surfaces and colorful beanbag chairs and sofas inject zest into the school day. Common spaces for all of the staff in the center of the building support the idea of a unified learning environment. Primary and upper-class students and staff communicate and exchange ideas freely and pupils can be assembled into various kinds of groups in an unfettered manner without the boundaries created by age segregation. Cellular group lounges are the core around which the transformable teaching facilities of the primary classes are arranged. The lounges also double as spaces for teaching and group work.
Each floor of the building has its signature color that adorns the corridors and furniture while also making it easier to find one’s way in the large building. Furthermore, the teaching facilities for the senior pupils are equipped for subject teaching, whereas the color choices in these spaces make a gradual shift towards more subdued hues while maintaining a touch of liveliness.
The facilities in the kindergarten can also be combined and divided at will, and in each compartment, there is an entryway to the yard outside, complete with a mudroom. Stair tubes create another exciting spatial experience for the children, while table sets in the cellular group work rooms are well suited for crafts, drawing and other activities as well as for having meals.
Project Info :
Architects : alt Architects
Project Year : 2017
Project Area : 13000.0 m2
Main Contractor : JL-Rakentajat
Project Location : Kajaani, Finland
Team : Kalle Vahtera, Antti Karsikas
Photographs : Ville-Pekka Ikola / alt
Lead Architects : Ville-Pekka Ikola, Martti Karsikas
Structural Engineering : Suunnittelutoimisto Määttä Oy
Client : City of Kajaani / Jari Pietarila, Tommi Karjalainen
BIM Consultants : Tietoa Finland: Marko Rajala, Miika Lemponen
Construction Management : City of Kajaani / Jari Pietarila, Tommi Karjalainen
Principal Design Collaboration : Arkkitehtitoimisto Karsikas Oy: Martti Karsikas
HVAC and Electrical Engineering : Arkins Suunnittelu Oy: Kari Sarkkinen, Mika Kumpula