The house that teaches: the Valteri Centre for Learning and Consulting
Each corner in the premises is designed to support pupils’ special needs and learning activities. The premises also offer clean indoor air, are energy-efficient and the spaces optimally arranged.
The construction of a new building was more cost-efficient than renovation
The Onerva unit of the Valteri Centre for Learning and Consulting welcomed 130 pupils who needed special support, 10 pupils attending support periods and 220 members of the staff to the new premises at the beginning of 2016. There were two separate schools in Jyväskylä, both of which had problems with the indoor air quality. “Renovating two old schools would have been very expensive, so we decided to construct one new building instead,” says Construction Project Manager Jouni Viri from Senate Properties. He explains that another challenge for the project was the fact that the rent could not be increased. The solution was to optimise the spaces and create a new learning environment. Even a swimming pool was fitted into the 29 million euro budget and 13,000 square metre floor area.
Easy to navigate
Guided routes and audio guides that make it easier for the visually impaired pupils to find their way around are just one – unique – example of the new learning environment. There are no traditional classrooms in Onerva, but the learning takes place in ‘parks’, which are shared spaces. These include the corridor, the open auditorium and the canteen. Learning can also take place in ‘springs’, which are smaller spaces, such as the staircase and the ball pit, designed for more intimate learning.
Having the different learning activities, efficient use of space and energy as well as comfort as the guiding principles for the architecture and building materials must pose some challenges. How did you do it? “We wanted to create a safe learning and working environment. Pupils, their parents and the staff were involved in the planning process with Senate Properties from the beginning. As specialists, we were able to apply the latest research in the field. Senate Properties took our requirements into account and found the necessary expertise in various areas,” says Vice Principal Tuulia Ikkelä-Koski.