Heinavaara School
Case Study by Reino Tapaninen
, chief architect
National Board of Education, Finland

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The 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, and homeliness.

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 relaxation.

Gross area = 2,400 m2 (= 25,820 sq ft)
Net area = 2,160 m2 (= 23,240 sq ft)
Net area / pupil = 12.3 m2 (= 132 sq ft)
Volume = 13,700 m3 (= 483,700 cu ft)
Total cost including furniture and equipment ca. FIM 15.7 million (VAT 0) = 2,313,000 USD  

Reino Tapaninen, chief architect
National Board of Education, Finland
P.O. Box 380
FIN-00531 Helsinki, Finland
Phone +358 9 77477121 | Fax +358 9 77477197 | E-mail: reino.tapaninen@oph.fi