The Hiekanpää campus in Pieksämäki in Eastern Finland encourages a learning process focusing on experiences. The building and its outside areas function as objects and tools of investigative learning. The architectural and technical solutions illustrate mathematical, physical, technical and artistic notions and phenomena in a concrete manner.
The buildings form a learning environment that enables and supports different learning paths. The orientation in the environment is intuitive and the surroundings are in close interaction with the functions. The new spaces encourage natural, informal encounters between students, staff and working life. Division in classes in learning environments will disappear in the future and the focus will be on large entities of information and knowledge. The new learning environments at Hiekanpää enable studying thematic entities.
The learning will sometimes take place under the supervision and guidance of a teacher, sometimes individually or in groups by investigating, experimenting and by playfully moving around. Each pupil has their own teaching group but in addition to this collaboration projects will be formed in elementary education, secondary education and adult education combining different age groups and even different generations. The activity can also engage external partners, for example local businesses, entrepreneurs, artists and organizations. The modus operandi requires pedagogic proficiency, innovation together with collaboration and interaction on various levels as well as an advanced use of information technology together with flexible spaces that can adapt to various functions.
The aim is to create a common culture of doing things together. A flexible space designed specially for the learner supports versatile learning in varied groups. The space opens towards external learning environments, encourages encounters and inspires learners by offering interesting stimuli and tools for individual learning. Mobile learning and virtual surroundings are an important part of an environment built for the learner: the tools needed for studying are not necessarily bound to a certain place but can be taken anywhere. This is how the learning environment expands: the nature and the urban space become the classrooms of tomorrow.