The school connects children of three different stages of learning along a central, social spine which brings learning out of the conventional classroom.
The flexibility with this environment allows groups of different sizes to learn in more social or isolated environments – catering for multiple types of learning. This is especially focused on the areas for those in the kindergarden and elementary school who often benefit from a more hands-on and interactive mode of education. A small amount of more traditionally structured classrooms provide the opportunity for more standard teaching methods.
The centre also focuses on cultural and civic uses; open on weekends and evenings for public activities or extra-curricular learning for all ages.
- Location: Lohja, Finland
- Year: 2017
- Programme: Kindergarden, elementary school and upper secondary school
- The education centre becomes the heart of public life in the city
- Laurentiustalo consists of three schools which span the age groups
- Flexible learning spaces cater for multiple types of learning
- Landscaped yards surround the education centre on all sides
- The building is designed to hold cultural, educational and civic activities out of school hours
Laurentiustalo, Lahdelma & Mahlamäki’s design for a learning centre in Lohja, Finland, puts education at the centre of public life. The proposal is an extension of the existing school building which creates a new public domain between the school, church and city library. The education centre itself is transformed from a linear block into a free-flowing learning space for children of all ages. Three schools which span the age groups of the Finnish educational system come together along a central, social, spine which aims to bring learning out of the conventional classroom. The educational complex houses a kindergarden, elementary school and an upper-secondary school – catering for all children up to the age of 16.
Laurentiustalo was designed in partnership with landscape architects MASU Planning – and as a result the project becomes an equal duality of inside and outside learning. Landscaped yards surround the education centre on all sides. One caters for each part of the school providing play and learning spaces, the fourth acts as a public living room – a connection point between the education centre and the community. These areas are as much a learning tool as they are a recreational space. Whether it is field studies in the biotope, lectures in the amphitheatre or physical education on the sports pitches. The yards are spatially framed by age-appropriate terrain, play equipment and trees. Whilst the play areas are connected through intermediate zones, each maintains a clear boundary easily recognisable to the children.
The learning spaces in Laurentiustalo are based around the idea of the biological cell. Branching off of the main spine, units which consist of small dividable spaces encircle a larger, more social, area. Each unit is subdivided with collapsible walls creating an always-changing sequence of privacy or openness. The flexibility with this environment allows groups of different sizes to learn in more social or isolated environments – catering for multiple types of learning. This is especially focused on the areas for those in the kindergarden and elementary school who often benefit from a more hands-on and interactive mode of education. A small amount of more traditionally structured classrooms provide the opportunity for more standard teaching methods.
Laurentiustalo takes the role of being the heart of Lohja and is committed to being a space for all of its citizens. As the centre of the city, the yards connect the educational hub with the civic buildings around it; the church and the library designed by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects. The school opens up to this public space with the large windows of the Art Wing which displays the works of students to the public, as well as dedicated outdoor spaces. The building also has cultural and civic uses; during evenings and weekends the school becomes a space for civic activities, galleries or performances along with a variety of educational activities for all ages, ranging from evening school classes to art and music education.
In addition to the main school building, Lahdelma & Mahlamäki proposed the construction of residential units. The efficiency of the school programme meant that site could be opened up for alternate components to be added to the scheme that would provide added revenue to support the life-time costs of the school. The apartments also aim to increase the density of the city centre, creating a livelier urban environment at all hours.
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