Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Notski, Heinola Upper Secondary School in Finland by LAHDELMA & MAHLAMÄKI ARCHITECTS
April 13th, 2018 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: LAHDELMA & MAHLAMÄKI ARCHITECTS
Notski is the winning competition entry for a 4660m2 upper-secondary school in Heinola by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects. Aside from its core focus of learning the school also is to become a social hub for the community – housing civic activities, youth culture and community sports. Flexible learning and activity spaces pivot outwards from a core social space that links all the programmes together. The classrooms themselves, designed with pedagogic experts, are optimised to cater for the different learning situations that the students would find themselves in throughout their school career.
Notski sits in the heart of Heinola, a secluded Finnish town of around 20,000 inhabitants, surrounded by a patchwork of islands, lakes and forests that make up the luscious Nordic landscape. Within this sinuous natural environment, the centre of Heinola has developed a linear grid structure. Lahdelma & Mahlamäki’s school breaks this orthogonal sequence bringing the essence of the natural landscape back into the town. The subtle gestures of courtyards and nature that surround the school blend its boundaries into those of the adjacent Maaherra Park. This extra outdoor space provides students with sports pitches, green space and an amphitheatre that extends their social and learning areas into the outdoors.
Whilst primarily being a home for students, Notski belongs to all age-groups and sections of the population. The building bases its spatial arrangement on balancing these two sets of users. Ground floor functions such as the auditorium, main space and sports hall were all designed to accommodate both students and members of the public and aim to be visually and physically open to the public. The building works around the clock, open for classes during school hours, but also functioning during evenings and weekends for civic activities.
The façade of the building reflects the duality of the public and private levels of the school. Large timber beams frame double-storey windows which connect the inside and outside spaces. Whereas on the private, student top floor, a more opaque material will wrap around the façade. This layer aims to let in the natural light whilst providing a more sheltered environment for focused learning. The contrast between the upper and lower façade creates a new image for the town, but at the same time shows itself as a gentle, elegant and sophisticated building.
The name Notski comes from the Finnish slang for campfire, which is the motif behind the school’s layout. The social, lively, centre of the building is where all the other functions are seated around. Like a campfire the school wants to bring together members of the community around a hive of activity.
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