Creating novel learning environments for the entire community

The proposal ‘Kolme kaupunkia’ or ‘Three Cities’ explores how a paradigm shift in school education can affect the physical learning spaces. It seeks to create an entirely novel learning environment that provides children a platform for learning together with the whole community. Instead of secluded institutions, schools should be seen as resources for the communities - as places supporting life-long learning. The Three Cities concept offers students the opportunity to study the world in personalized ways, and teachers the possibility to support various methods of learning.

Location: Helsinki, Finland

Program: Comprehensive School

Size: 8 000 m2

Status: Purchase in two-phase open competition 2015

Client: City of Helsinki

Collaborators: Ramboll Finland Oy, Granlund Oy

Team: Eero Lundén, Maija Parviainen, Ron Aasholm, Emma Koivuranta, Carmen Lee, Matti Pirinen, Christopher Erdman, Callisté Mastrandreas, Xudong Yan, Arja Renell

The Learning Landscape

The new Jätkäsaari School will be an inspiring learning environment for students, as well as for residents of the area. School buildings are no longer just schools, but local libraries, adult education centres, science centres and shared community spaces. Canteens will transform into community restaurants and learning areas into recreational spaces.

The Finnish educational system is shifting from subject-based teaching to phenomenon-based learning. The school will be the framework for interaction and learning, where students and teachers together tackle the complex mysteries of the world. To best accommodate the change, school building typologies must be updated. The new spatial requirements are similar to new libraries, museums, or science centres rather than traditional classroom-based schools. The new environment encourages exploration and creativity, and provides an opportunity to address the phenomena of the world as larger entities through simultaneous teaching.

Two home cells

In this proposal, the new learning environment supports students’ individual learning habits by creating a variety of spaces that can be flexibly combined and divided. This creates an inclusive environment where different backgrounds and interests are embraced. The teacher’s role changes from a lecturer to a coach or a mentor. Instead of separate classrooms, teachers have shared preparation spaces for planning and collaboration. They are also places where one can meet the pupils to discuss and build a study path suited to their needs and dreams.

The proposed school is composed of three different “cities”: ‘The Street’, a city for culture, expression and community, ‘The Learning Landscape’, a city for creating knowledge and ‘The Lab’, a city for environmental and natural discovery.  All three “cities” have distinct identities. The atmosphere of each ‘city’ manifests through spatial organization and materiality of the learning spaces. ‘The Street’ on the ground floor aims for openness. Its facilities are shared with the community during the school day. ‘The Learning Landscape’ on the first floor consists of student home cells that are accessed through a communal glazed terrace. The landscape evolves from the traditional classroom model by offering a wider variety of spaces with different conditions for learning. ‘The Lab’ on the second floor allows students to learn about the natural world, such as nutrition and sciences, through the use of laboratories and a green roof terrace with energy and food production.

Together the three different cities provide possibilities to explore the world from the perspective of history and expression, the creation of new knowledge, as well as from the perspective of virtual reality, nature and experiment. The building becomes a versatile and dynamic landmark for the whole Jätkäsaari area.

The proposal envisions a new learning environment that supports students' individual learning habits by creating a variety of spaces that can be flexibly combined and divided. The spaces create an inclusive environment where different backgrounds and interests are embraced.

The Street

The Lab