Ah, how we love you, Finland! If you're a frequent Inhabitots reader, you know from our previous stories that we have a love affair with this Scandinavian educational powerhouse. The latest thing we're smitten with is the beautiful Saunalahti school, designed by VERSTAS Architects and located in Espoo, Finland's second largest city. In addition to being architecturally fascinating, the school is designed to support Finland's inspiring educational philosophies... and it also doubles as a recreational area for the whole community after school hours. Click through for more about this thoughtful school that seamlessly promotes learning while honoring the needs and sensibilities of the children it serves.
Entire walls of glass windows allow for a view of the outside world and make the main building appear to be more closely aligned in design with a modern art museum than the staid, old-fashioned school buildings with which we have become accustomed. One of the first things we noticed inside the school is how light-filled and airy the rooms are with beautiful wood flooring in many spaces. These design elements take advantage of the limited hours of sun that Finland does get in the winter, and it also allows for little bodies to naturally adjust to the seasonal changes. The classrooms are open, inviting movement and varied seating arrangements. In fact, the students are often allowed to sit how and where they would like, with an emphasis on sitting and working with peers on team projects.
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The building includes both a primary and secondary school, with thoughtful consideration towards each student population. Details such as color-coding the hallways so that younger students can easily find their way to their own class and focusing on incorporating natural materials in the school’s interior and exterior go a long way in making this school feel like a home away from home.
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The building, which houses more traditional features including a lunchroom/auditorium, a library, and a gym also includes some unique spaces such as a hardware workshop. The school and grounds become a gathering place for the community in the evening, holding sporting events and performances — so the spaces function for both the benefit of the students and other local residents. This beautiful building may look like it should be the cornerstone workspace of a fancy tech company, but it’s serving a noble, often overlooked purpose: nurturing and supporting the nation’s minds as they grow and explore.
Images via Aleks1780 on Live Journal