Smart School in Irkutsk, Russia

Invitational competition 2015 (second prize)

30 000 sqm

Strelka Institute

Studio Puisto Architects: Mikko Jakonen, Emma Johansson, Sampsa Palva, Heikki Riitahuhta, Willem van Bolderen, Pauliina Kujala, Tiia Anttila + Architects Rudanko + Kankkunen

Sweco, landscape architect Mari Ariluoma

area planning, learning environments, cultural buildings

We collaborated with Architects Rudanko + Kankkunen in this Strelka invitational competition for a Smart School in Irkutsk, Russia. The Smart School is a large mixed use development consisting of schools for many age groups, housing for families, a farm, and sports functions on a green site by the river Angara. The total size of the program is 30 000 sqm. The competition program introduced the idea of a “School-park”, a school which merges into the landscape and uses the green areas as learning environments. The idea was very welcome to our team, as Finnish education is based on holistic, phenomenon-based learning, which spreads out from the classrooms.

The proposal is based on the idea of small-scale Learning villages. The daily learning environments of the children consist of inspiring village-like structures, which are spread around the campus, opening up to the natural environments. The terrain is subtly shaped to create sheltered valleys for schoolyards, sports, farm, and family housing. At the heart of the site, the small-scale Learning villages are surrounded by bigger school blocks, which frame a safe home area for each group of children. The learning space naturally continues from indoors to outdoors.

The jury praised the learning environment concept of the Finnish proposal and found the idea of learning villages to match the ideal of a School-park. We were enthusiastic to discuss the relationship of learning and architectural space, and this created a lively discussion between the jury and the architect team during the presentations of the competition. Out of the six competitors, the competition jury chose three best works as finalists to compete at the last round. The team of Architects Rudanko + Kankkunen and Studio Puisto Architects made it to the last round and finally won second prize in the competition.

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