Completed in 2022, the Martta Wendelin Day Care Centre is a wooden building designed to provide capacity for around 200 children. Its location has been skillfully chosen to account for the noise and pollution emanating from the busy Tuusulanväylä motorway nearby. The interiors are oriented to the south, making the most of the wooded setting and abundance of natural light. A handsome canopy structure creates a setting for outdoor play, come rain or shine.
While offering a sweep of clean lines externally, internally the day care centre is expertly designed to a child-friendly scale. The spatial arrangements are carefully thought through and reflect the importance of small group spaces in providing safe and nurturing environment for the young building users. Between these small group spaces and housed in the central frame, lies a flexible, open-plan, multi-use area comprising a series of spaces that lend themselves for additional uses outside of the day-care centre’s opening hours.
What distinguishes the Martta Wendelin Day Care Centre from other similar projects recently completed in Finland is the high-specification wood architecture and the detailed finishes that define it. The day-care centre has already garnered international recognition in the form of a wood architecture prize awarded by five European architectural journals that aims to promote and celebrate leading practitioners in this specialist field. In its remarks, the jury highlighted the way the designers have made use of CLT panelling not only for structural purposes but also to shape the building’s milieu. In a day care centre, acoustics matter and here, thanks to the materials chosen for the interiors, they are excellent.
The key priorities for the client, the municipality of Tuusula, were safety, reliable structural performance and a long life cycle. In keeping with these priorities, cross-laminated timber was chosen for the external and internal walls as well as all intermediate walls, with the material serving as a carbon sink for the building. Timber has been used for the interiors too and can be seen and felt throughout. Notably, the building has been created to accommodate future adaptation. Thanks to a design that allows new openings to be added to the loadbearing internal walls, it will be possible to reconfigure the interior spaces at a later date. The building material chosen by the client also facilitates this. Externally, the cladding consists of vertically installed and highly weather-resistant, stained larch battens in varying widths.
The Martta Wendelin Day Care Centre has also been awarded the Nordic Swan Ecolabel which recognises energy efficiency, indoor air quality and the recycling and reuse of building components. It is an excellent example of the kind of methods and interventions already available that can be implemented within the construction sector to promote sustainability and carbon neutrality, while creating architecture for the future.