AOR Architects, a young practice based in Helsinki, have won the commission to design Monio High School and Community Centre in Tuusula, Finland. The project explores an innovative use of timber log building and will be the largest timber log school building in the world after its completion. Consisting of a high school, music institute, and community college, AOR’s proposal combines these different programs in a multi-functional learning and community environment.
In their design for the Monio High School and Community Centre, AOR Architects have applied contemporary wood construction to traditional building methods. The use of timber log construction creates a durable and environmentally friendly outcome, leading to decreased carbon emissions both in the construction stage and through the building’s lifespan. By generating an interesting textual quality in the façade and interior of the building, the use of timber log adds to both the architectural experience of the building as well as improving the acoustics and airflow by being an organic and breathable material.
Set in the former garrison area of Hyrylä, the design draws inspiration from the old barrack buildings of the area. The design of the high school and community center consists of 5 intersecting log houses that mirror the scale of the past buildings, as well as referencing the characteristics of the historical buildings of the area through façade and the shape of the roof. In the words of the architects, the project attempts to capture “the order and vigorous spirit of the former garrison area”, transforming it into a multi-functional, shared space.
By combining the typology of a school and a community center, the project creates a sense of community and collaboration. Instead of the typically insular world of a high school, the hybrid typology allows for interaction between various demographics, opening up the school to share resources and spaces with the community. It represents a new type of learning environment, one that emphasizes spatial openness, collaboration, flexibility, and multi-functionality. The spaces for learning are not only generic classrooms but rather ambiguous areas of the lobby spaces where it can be used not only by students but by different users of the building for a variety of activities.
The placement of the five timber log houses creates an internal network of meandering streets, in which the lobby spaces are situated on three levels. This evokes the sense of a miniature city within its wooden walls, where the porosity of the design creates the impression of a layered urban environment. By moving along the internal ‘streets’ and across the bridges, the inhabitants of the high school and community center can see and interact with each other.
Design TeamErkko Aarti, Mikki Ristola, Arto Ollila, Kuutti Halinen, Meri Wiikinkoski
PhotographsCourtesy of AOR
News via: AOR.