Monio upper secondary school and cultural centre

Monio is a new multipurpose building that is being constructed in the former garrison area in the centre of Tuusula’s Hyrylä district.

Read the article in Finnish here.

The building houses an upper secondary school and cultural centre and represents a multipurpose building concept that collects several public services under one roof. This way, they all have access to much better facilities than they would on their own, and Monio in turn is in much closer contact with the city’s cultural services than a conventional school building. Besides the Tuusula upper secondary school, the facilities will be used by Tuusula Adult Education, the Tuusula School of Fine Arts and Keskinen Uusimaa Music College. The eclectic range of users brings local residents of all ages together and encourages cooperation between different services.

With a gross area of 8773 m2, Monio is one of the largest log-construction public buildings in Finland and also the first log school with three-storeys. This technologically advanced building showcases a novel combination of different methods for modern wooden construction. Besides the obvious log walls, even the intermediate floors, pillars, and roof structures are made of wood, making the entire building very much a wooden edifice.

The building architecture reflects the straight-edged spirit of the surrounding former garrison, with the building’s mass, façades, materials, and interior all drawing inspiration from its historic buildings. Tuusula’s long tradition in log construction is on display on the Monio site, which includes Building 10, a log house protected for historical significance, and a red-brick warehouse from the garrison era. Together with the new building, they square off a functional courtyard that is verdant and park-like. The courtyard’s pathways and squares have terracotta paving, which connects the wooden building to the traditional red brick of the surrounding garrison. The building façades are modern industrial log, and the roof is galvanized sheet metal. The entrance porticos facing the courtyard are clad in brick.

The Monio facility consists of six three-storey, gabled log buildings with log walls on the façade and the lobby side interior. There is a high covered inner courtyard between the log buildings and sheltered entrances. The lobbies are located on the inner courtyard, and the log buildings house a new style learning environment where learning spaces of different sizes are gathered around a common learning lobby. Learning activities expand into the inner courtyard and the open learning spaces of the lobbies. A small auditorium and a larger hall for events and sports can accommodate a variety of cultural events in addition to their everyday school use.

Monio’s architectural design is based on the winning proposal in a public architecture competition arranged in 2018.

Technical solutions

With a few exceptions, Monio’s fire safety is designed according to the threshold values in current regulations. The building is fire class P2 and is equipped with an automatic extinguishing system. The fire safety design deviates from the P2 fire class thresholds in three areas: the fire compartment formed by the lobby and the large hall exceeds the maximum allowed by regulations, the fire protection treatment of the ground floor has been omitted on grounds of the solid outer wall structure, and the building’s height is also slightly above the regulated maximum. A decisive question in the fire safety design was how much of the wooden interior surfaces could be left without fire protection. In the end, the design made sure that none of the log walls needed cladding for fire safety reasons.

The load-bearing frame of the building mainly consists of glulam pillars and steel WQ beams with wooden Kerto-Ripa slab elements used for the intermediate floors. Glulam diagonals and concrete stair and elevator shafts provide the needed stiffening. The log walls are separate from the building’s load-bearing frame and serve as both exterior walls and partitions. The roof structure is built from wood on site. Concrete was used for the basement, stairwells, elevator shaft, public shelters, and the walls and ceiling of the two halls.

In the acoustic design, the acoustics of the music facilities and the two halls received special attention, as did the wooden frame detailing between the spaces and surrounding floors. Monio’s halls have variable acoustics, meaning that the acoustics can be adjusted to event-specific needs with the help of roller blinds on the side walls and retractable acoustic elements in the ceiling. The music facilities have a room-within-a-room structure.

Monio’s event and sports hall is equipped with an interesting solution: its shielded power grids can be lowered from the ceiling. During baccalaureate exam season, this provides electrical sockets for the 200 eager test-takers toiling away at their desks. This also means that the hall can easily transition from use for physical education to events and exams.

Ventilation is automated. Each log house has an HVAC machine room in the attic, and its fresh air is drawn through fresh air intakes concealed behind small grilles in the façades and tucked under the gable roofs. Heating is provided by district heating, and additional energy is provided by roughly 500 m2 of solar panels installed on the roof. The building is energy class A.

The construction project

In 2017-2018, a general architectural competition was organised for the design of the Tuusula upper secondary school and multi-purpose building. Out of a total of 58 proposals, AOR Arkkitehdit’s “Monikko” was selected to be the winner. This winning proposal presented Monio, originally Monikko, as a first-of-its-kind 3-storey log school, and this pioneering idea for Finnish wooden construction was retained as the guiding light of the project

With the winning proposal in hand, Tuusula municipality decided on a so-called life-cycle contract for the project’s construction and maintenance. The tendering process for the life-cycle contract took just under a year in 2018-2019, and the winning service provider was selected in summer 2019. However, the losing bidder challenged the decision, leading to the municipality suspending the life-cycle contract’s procurement in autumn 2019. Eventually, Tuusula municipality decided to use a traditional turnkey approach after all and began to plan the project’s actualisation in spring 2020. The project’s building permit came through at the end of 2020, and the overall contract tendering took place in spring 2021.

Lujatalo Oy kicked off construction in August 2021. When construction began, the Finnish wood and steel market was overheated, making it difficult to procure materials for such an extensive project. To avoid interruptions, Monio’s construction materials were procured well in advance. For example, the roof’s metal sheets were already waiting in storage before construction even began. The foundations and pre-cast concrete tasks were completed during autumn 2021. Weather protection was put up in December 2021, allowing the installation of prefabricated log and wood elements to begin. The installation work for the challenging hybrid frame was planned and scheduled carefully in advance: 4D data model-based scheduling software simulated the alternative installation sequences to allow the most optimal sequence to be chosen. The wooden frame was built in two stages. Once the first part had reached the roof’s waterproofing, the weather protection was relocated to protect the second part. The frame was complete by late spring 2022, allowing interior construction to begin.

In autumn 2022, construction industry magazine Rakennuslehti selected Monio as its Construction Site of the Year 2022. As its selection criteria, the jury cited the project’s technical and architectural sophistication, the construction site’s inclusive management, and the entire team’s boldness in introducing new operation and supervision methods.

During construction, the hybrid frame and the combination of different construction materials and product parts posed a variety of challenges. These were resolved in cooperation with product component suppliers by planning and producing new types of joint details. The entire experience has also provided confidence in bidding for and constructing future large-scale hybrid frame projects. Building inspectors deemed Monio fit for use on June 1st, 2023, and the site was handed over to the client on July 14th, 2023.


AOR Architects is a Helsinki-based architecture office specialized in public buildings, new learning environments and wood construction. The work of AOR has been awarded in numerous architecture competitions. Jätkäsaari School in Helsinki, completed in 2019, was the first major work of AOR and was nominated for the Finlandia Prize for Architecture in 2022. In 2021, AOR Architects was awarded the State Prize for Architecture for excellent success in architecture competitions and for the high-quality execution of buildings following competition wins.

Project in brief

Monio upper secondary school and cultural centre

  • Location | Tuusula
  • Purpose | School and multi-purpose building
  • Constructor/Client | City of Tuusula, Facilities services
  • Valmistumisvuosi | 2023
  • Floor area | 8 115 m2
  • Total area | 8 771 m2
  • Volume | 52 500 m3
  • Investointikustannukset | 33 200 000€
  • Architectural Design | AOR Arkkitehdit Oy
  • Structural design | A-Insinöörit Suunnittelu Oy
  • Akustiikkasuunnittelu | A-Insinöörit Suunnittelu Oy
  • Palotekninen suunnittelu | KK-Palokonsultti Oy
  • LVIA-suunnittelu | Sitowise Oy
  • Sprinklerisuunnittelu | Sitowise Oy
  • Electrical design | Ramboll Finland Oy
  • Interior design | Haptik Oy
  • Muut suunnittelijat ja asiantuntijat | Landscaping design : Maisema-arkkitehtitoimisto Näkymä Oy
    AV technical design: Granlund Oy
    Developer consultant : WSP Finland Oy
  • Pääurakoitsija | Lujatalo Oy
  • Muut rakennusliikkeet | LVI- ja sähköurakoitsija: ARE Oy
  • Wood component supplier | Kontiotuote Oy (logs), VVR Wood Oy (intermediate floor elements), Versowood Oy (glulam pillars and diagonals), Puumerkki Oy (LVL beams)
  • Muut materiaalit | Nordec Oy (WQ beams), HSL Group Oy (wood-glass walls), Heikkinen Yhtiöt Oy (surface floors), Electro Waves Oy (AV technology), Lujabetoni Oy (concrete elements)
  • Photographs | Anders Portman, Kuvatoimisto Kuvio Oy
  • Text | Mikki Ristola, AOR Arkkitehdit, Kasperi Nyberg, Lujatalo Oy