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In a village-like school everyone has room to grow and learn

The Forssa multipurpose centre Akvarelli

Location: Forssa, Finland
Year: 2022
Area: 10 000 brm2
Client: City of Forssa

World Architecture Festival finalist 2023

Photos: Martin Sommerschield, Kuvio

Forssa’s new multipurpose centre is a learning environment that resembles a village community, providing the necessary facilities for the city’s basic education and early childhood education services.

The multi-purpose building, which combines elementary school, daycare and special education services, serves over 800 users daily. The space needed is large, but most of the users are small. Therefore, the idea of a village emerged during the draft stage: instead of the learning environment consisting of one large building, several smaller buildings were planned. During the construction phase, the project was known by the working name Monikylä (“multiple villages”). The name reflects both the project’s community-oriented goals and the building’s block-like architecture that gives respect to the scale of children.

The learning environment is designed to be as easily understandable as possible from a child’s perspective. Even the smallest user can navigate the building using colour themes. The heart of the village-like school is the courtyard area: a tall lobby space surrounded by brick buildings of different colours, that serves as a meeting place and dining hall. In addition to an exciting learning environment, the city of Forssa also gets a multi-purpose space with many possibilities: the centre’s large sports hall and exceptionally well-equipped stage areas serve the community as a versatile hobby and leisure time venue.

The architecture of the building proudly draws from Forssa’s history. The multi-purpose building, with façades of five different bricks, is a modern continuation of the city’s old industrial building stock. The area’s history is also reflected in the new multi-purpose centre’s façade and glass surfaces inside, which use Finlayson’s old patterns.

Houses like in a small village

The building respects the scale of children: instead of having one large structure for the learning environment, several smaller houses were designed

A lively square in the middle of everything

At the heart of the village-like school is a square area: a tall atrium bordered by differently colored brick buildings that serves as a meeting place and doubles as a cafeteria.

The central lobby, flanked by brick buildings of different colours, functions as the common village square. The stage can be opened to the lobby or to the sports hall. The first floor plinth contains teaching spaces for home economics, crafts, music and sport, as well as spaces that are in the citizens’ use, such as the mediatheque.
The Loikkamökki (“Hopping Hut”) mural is designed by artists Maikki Rantala and Tanja Valta.
The façades and the interior glass walls are adorned with textile patterns, which were originally designed in the local fabric print studio established by Finlayson in the 1950s. The patterns was chosen based on the user group or the function of the spaces: animals roam the glass walls of the daycare, human figures in the elementary school. The spaces of the upper school are recognized by the more abstract geometric patterns, and the special education spaces by plant motifs.
A common material palette connects the interior and exterior spaces. In addition to brick surfaces, the same railing style and openings have been used in the indoor areas as in outdoor spaces.