Projects   Building Types Study - Schools, K-12
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Heinävaara Elementary School
Heinävaara, Finland
Cuningham Group Architecture

A small Finish village is home to "the wooden school of tomorrow"

© Pekka Agarth

For more photos click on 'photos & drawings' above.

To see the people and products behind this project click on 'people & products.'

Called "the wooden school of tomorrow" in the Finnish press, this facility combines leading-edge design and technology with the rich cultural heritage of Heinävaara (population, 1,000), located in North Karelia, a heavily forested region on the Russian border.

When the mayor of Heinävaara, Juhani Rouvinen came to the U.S. shopping for architects to design the school, his motive was partly economic: Heinävaarans wanted to boost their local wood-products industry by using the construction project to learn a North American building technique known as wood platform-framing. But the mayor and his delegation were also determined to build a "school of tomorrow," blending leading-edge school design and 21st-century technology with the rich cultural heritage of North Karelia.

Educational modules of the 26,000-square-foot school open to a central gathering space with media center, performance area, and cafeteria available to the community in the evening. A variety of different-sized learning spaces encourage connections and support hands-on, individual, and group learning experiences. A stage opens to both the gym and cafeteria, making the performance area adaptable to the size of the gathering. Computers on carts can be routed to the modules or clustered for use by students or community groups. A focal point of the main gathering area is a 10-foot-high, soapstone fireplace used by students for activities such as baking traditional Karelian pies. At the front entrance of the 26,000-square-foot building is an ornate wooden canopy, a classic Karelian design feature. The school’s exterior is pine, with a typically Karelian metal roof.

Formal name of Project:
Heinävaara Elementary School

Heinävaara, Finland

Gross square footage:
26,000 sq ft

Total construction cost:
$2.7 million

Commune of Kiihtelysvaara

Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A.
201 Main Street, Suite 325
Minneapolis, MN 55414


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