school, located in the small municipality of Kiihtelysvaara in Eastern Finland,
commenced its operations in fall 1999.
The school houses pre-school education (five to six
year-olds), year-classes 1-6 of basic education (seven- to 12-year-olds),
and a special education group. The school has some 175 pupils, eight
teachers, and a couple of teacher's aids.
The school building was designed by Cuningham Group
Architects from Minnesota, U.S., an architecture firm specialized
in schools with an open learning environment. They are also well-versed
in timber construction.
An essential part of the planning process consisted
of interviews with future pupils, parents, and teachers, and the continuous
collaboration of the designers and experts. Before the actual planning
of the school the designers familiarized themselves with the local
culture and tradition of timber construction. The principles and starting
points for the design included flexibility, variability, versatility,
The core of the Heinävaara School building consists
of an open central hall, a large learning vista. Around it are located the
so-called homebases for each age group with a workstation for each pupil. Near
the homebase are closed small-group spaces and classrooms for art and crafts
subjects. The central hall contains facilities for groupwork, individual
working, knowledge acquisition and ADP, as well as comfortable nooks for
Gross area = 2,400 m2 (= 25,820 sq ft)