The use of wood allowed for a flexible floor plan and sympathetic spaces.
Helsingin sanomat newspaper recycled (April 26) Construction magazine article About a wooden school to be built in Tiistilä, Espoo. The project has many current and worthwhile features. However, the presentation of the school project as the first wooden school in Espoo was surprising. Even after the old idyllic primary schools, wooden schools have been built in Espoo. At least the Aarnivalkea school, which was completed in Tapiola in 1957, used wooden wall elements.
I designed the Lähderanta school, which was completed in 1987, by Touko Neronen. At that time, the use of wood was not very common and not always appreciated. The use of wood was decided for cost reasons: wood was the most economical material, and a building with a wooden structure could be built without piling when the building was placed in a suitable place in the right shape. The use of wood allowed for a flexible floor plan and sympathetic spaces.
Following the so-called mold school debate and recalling the planning of a school in the Middle East, I made an observation that may be relevant when we wonder about the prevalence of structural damage to schools. Too often, plots of schools and other buildings have been zoned for the worst or most expensive places in the area in terms of establishment, as no transferable plots have been available for them. These places are often on the edges of green areas. To date, however, the school in Lähderanta has not appeared on the list of damaged buildings – the long-lived wooden building is the best speaker in favor of wooden construction.
Excerpt from the building inventory of Espoo schools in 2017: ”[Lähderannan] The school building represents the return of wood to public construction and at the same time a new kind of wood architecture that utilizes traditional themes. The whole represents the human scale and creates the impression of a small town. The school has survived very well. ”
architect SAFA, Helsinki
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