Karviaistie School, Helsinki

Karviastie School is a special-needs education facility for 90 pupils. Through the extension and renovation works, the two existing school buildings are joined together.

The competition pseudonym “Syli” (lap) suggests the idea of designing a space like a welcoming embrace with a warm and open environment for intimate learning.

Every year, the staff and children create an artistic musical performance; the whole production, including the stage set and costumes, is produced together in-house. This special event provided the guidelines for the distribution of spaces. The courtyard facing gallery serves as an inviting space for many social interactions.

The atmosphere resembles a village school but with well-proportioned modern elements. The new structure is built entirely of timber except for the ground floor slab. The renovation of the old timber buildings (from 1912-32) was limited to the interior with some programmatic updates.

A key feature in the school’s pedagogical strategy is to make things together and by hand. Great attention is given to presenting the children’s work, alongside pieces by a contemporary artist which are integrated into the building.

Karviaistie school was invited to an international exhibition and a publication in Zurich, Switzerland with theme “School buildings The state of affairs” (Birkhäuser 2004). The exhibition took place in Zurich in 2004 and in New York in 2007. Karviaistie school was published in Mark Dudeks’s book “Schools and Kindergartens – A design manual” (Birkhäuser 2007). The school was also among 26 selected works chosen for 2002-2003 collection of Finnish Architecture (exhibition and catalogue) (Museum of Finnish Architecture).

Year: 2002
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Image credits: Michael Klöpfer 1, 2, 6, 7
Team: Asko Takala, Kaisa Savolainen, Eero Holopainen, Tapani Lehtinen, Carita Lindholm, Marja Renell, Riku Rönkä, Niklas Mahlberg

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