Misteli Daycare Centre
In 1994, the Helsinki City Education Department and Helsinki City Public Works Department arranged an open architectural competition for Soininen Primary School. The winning proposal was called “Lasten kaupunki” (The Children’s Town). The idea of the school building as an environment stimulating the hierarchic structure of a town has directed planning throughout the construction phase.
Soininen primary school is situated in the Malmi district of Helsinki. The site borders on a residential area, a park and an outdoor recreation area. The building is located on the easternmost edge of the site. Thanks to positioning, it was possible to preserve the parklike segment of the site and the spacious outdoor recreations areas. The freely winding external wall brings a sense of unity to the building while creating the small-scale environment proper for children. The evenly distributed entrances on the perimeter of the building provide access to the school from all directions.
In Soininen primary school there are premises for both standard and special education. The school holds twelve basic and three specialized education groups. The maximum student capacity of the school is 414. The premises are also well suited for extra-curricular use by local organizations and associations.
The school premises wind around three internal courtyards. The ground level features one home cell, quarters for pastoral care and physical education, the black theatre, subject education classes, the library and the dining area. The library is the core of the school, the centre of knowledge. The dining area is the functional centre of the school, the miniature town’s market square, around which the public quarters, the library, the black theatre and the physical education quarters are positioned. The teaching quarters are divided into three home cells and a subject education workshop cell. The cells are the blocks of the miniature town, the children’s true immediate surroundings.
The inner courtyards form a part of the students’ outdoor recreation area, a roofed extension of the courtyards. Each atrium has a unique nature, based on its functions. The home cells function as a unified whole, teaching situations which bring together different school classes can be created, and the cell halls also function as education areas. The miniature town school helps children to understand and perceive their living environment in a more general way.
The materials of the school are sturdy and touchable. The material atmosphere of the reinforced concrete framed building is created by overlapping brick pointing, wood with a transparent finish and hot-dipped steel. These materials form a backdrop to the children’s activities and a counterweight to the increasingly mechanized school environment. The details, the furniture and the materials create a proportional climate.
Source: Finnish Architectural Review 5–6/1997