Occupying an extensive site near the seashore, the Oulu Christian School and Verso daycare centre opened their doors in autumn 2021. The building is constructed from breathable and humidity-balancing logs, and this natural material has a visible presence in every room.
Read the article in English: Oulun kristillinen koulu ja päiväkoti Verso
The daycare centre/integrated school building is placed on the plot in a way that maximises the size of the yard, which faces south and borders the forest. This new log building creates a novel backdrop for a historic villa on the block.
Users of the building range from children in daycare to preschoolers and primary school students from the first to the ninth grade. The L-shaped floor plan follows the natural progress of the students: the first stop is daycare, preschool is further down the hallway, leading to the primary school wing, continuing past the multipurpose room to the lower secondary school facilities for specific subjects.
Classrooms can be combined together as needed. Opening onto the adjoining classrooms and the courtyard, the high-ceilinged multipurpose room also serves as the school’s cafeteria.
The building is primarily constructed with non-settling planed logs that are painted a warm gray, creating a single storey structure with a slatted (felt) ceiling. The facade is arranged into traditional red and yellow earth tone colour fields. Fibre cement panels add vibrant patches of colour, particularly near the entrances. The panels not only highlight the entrances, they also shield the building from the heavier wear and tear of entry and exit. The air conditioning equipment is tucked under the steeply pitched roof.
The building is a “sock school”: everyone takes off their coats and shoes at the entrance and leaves them in a well-ventilated storage area. The indoor air is fresh thanks to the cleanliness and non-allergenic surface materials.
The building frame has a planned service life of 100 years, and the fire class is P2. On the ground floor, the frame height of 3640 mm is used in full in the classrooms and lobbies, meaning there are no suspended ceilings in general.
Non-settling lamella logs form the exterior walls and bear the load of the roof. Load-bearing wooden partitioning walls also run through the building in 1 or 2 lines, depending on the area. Wood and steel pillars and beams serve as load-bearing structures in the cafeteria, allowing this multipurpose area to remain open and face many directions. There are 13 different types of partitioning walls, each designed to meet the functional, structural, and sound requirements of various rooms, extending up to sound class Dntv 55dB.
The foundations are reinforced concrete, with external thermal insulation and fibre cement panel cladding on the footings. The roof was built onsite using a nail plate truss and membrane insulation.
Vertical stiffening of the building is accomplished with log exterior walls and panel partitioning walls. For horizontal stiffening, the truss has panelling on its lower surface.
The ground floor has two fire compartments separated by EI30 structures. Another separate compartment houses the civil defence shelter. EI30 gypsum board is also used to cover the entire ground floor ceiling structure. The two air conditioning equipment rooms in the attic space created by the roof trusses have their own compartments. The attic’s cold spaces are divided by EI15 wall structures into compartments of 400 m2 maximum. As required by the P2 fire class, the internal wood surfaces have been treated with Nordtreat Deco fire retardant.
The main acoustic material for classrooms and other spaces is allergy-friendly Cewood cement chipboard, which is mounted on the ceiling. Wall-mounted acoustic panels, acoustic mounting surfaces, and textile floor mats in some rooms contribute to the room acoustics.
Planning started at the end of 2019 when the Oulu Christian School invited bids to lease the land it had reserved. After the winning bid was accepted in early 2020, intensive collaboration between the users and the design team began to develop the design. This collaborative development went well and was rewarding – although the tight design schedule did pose its share of challenges. The lesson learned here for future reference was that it is important to discuss development schedules and timelines right from the start.
By March 2020, the project had progressed to the building permit application stage. The permit was granted in April, although preliminary construction work had already kicked off under a landscaping permit. Construction of the roof elements began in July, using the installation beds built in the yard. August saw the start of the log frame installation, which was divided into three sections. As soon as a section was completed, the completed roof elements, coated up to the base felt, were lifted into place.
Interior work was done in the winter of 2020–2021, with the exterior finishing and yard construction continuing in the spring. The interior was handed over to the user for furnishing at the beginning of July, followed by the entire property at the end of July 2021 – just over a week before the start of school.
The construction contractor had one additional foreman at the location in addition to the foreman-in-charge. At its busiest, there were 40–50 people working simultaneously on the site. Site meetings were held monthly in accordance with Covid pandemic related restrictions. The most prominent changes caused by the pandemic were the various meeting arrangements, the staggering of breaks at the construction site, hygiene practice improvements, and increased delivery times for many items. Luckily, the project was able to avoid having large numbers of absences and was able to keep to critical procurement schedules.
The project and its success were characterised by good and open cooperation between all parties.
The Turku-based Arkkitehtitoimisto Ark’Aboa Oy was founded in 1995. The company employs 5-6 people. Currently, it concentrates on public projects, most of which involve schools/daycare centres.
Hoivarakentajat Oy is a construction company specialising in sensory-friendly daycare centres, schools and sheltered housing, and is Finland’s largest public log construction company. Hoivarakentajat has built more than 100 healthy, sustainably designed buildings.
Project in brief
Oulu Christian school and Verso daycare centre
- Location | Oulu
- Purpose | School and daycare centre
- Constructor/Client | Kiinteistö Oy MHR 3
- Floor area | 2 583 m2
- Total area | 2 823 m2
- Volume | 12 105 m3
- Architectural Design | Arkkitehtitoimisto ArK’Aboa Oy / Chief designer Pia Helin, project architect Esa Virtanen
- Structural design | Insinööritoimisto Linnakangas Risto Oy
- Akustiikkasuunnittelu | A-Insinöörit Akustiikkasuunnittelu
- Palotekninen suunnittelu | L2 Paloturvallisuus Oy
- LVIA-suunnittelu | LVI-suunnittelu Ervasti Oy
- Electrical design | Sähkö-Polar Oy
- Interior design | Arkkitehtitoimisto Ark’Aboa Oy
- Muut suunnittelijat ja asiantuntijat | Yard and leveling design: Pihasuunnittelu Susanna Rantanen
Energy calculation: Vesitaito Oy
Construction supervision: Rakennuttajatoimisto Promen Oy
- Pääurakoitsija | General contractor: Hoivarakentajat Oy, site main builder and construction contractor Rakennusyhtiö Observo Oy
- Muut rakennusliikkeet | Other contractors: LVI-palvelu Pitkälä Oy, Sähkö-Polar Oy, Honkarakenne Oyj, Electrolux Professional Oy
- Wood component supplier | Honkarakenne Oyj
- Photographs | Hoivarakentajat Oy
- Text | Pia Helin and Tuomas Nieminen