Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Natural Sciences has received the new premises built by the University of Helsinki. The high school, founded in 1999, will move from its old and cramped premises in Käpylä to the green university campus in Kumpulanmäki during the fall of 2023. The Kumpula campus is a center for natural science research and teaching near the center of Helsinki City.
The location of the new school building in the Kumpula campus area and the facilities that will be partially shared with the university enable the high school to cooperate even more closely with the university. High school students will, for example, use the university’s auditoriums, sports facilities and laboratories, and the university can also use the high school’s facilities for its own activities. Future cooperation with the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Science will further increase the popularity of the science high school.
Environmentally friendly frame and customizable spaces
The five-story building is made of wood. Wood is a climate-resistant and ecological building material that offers students a comfortable, safe and healthy learning environment and saves the environment throughout the building’s life cycle. Wood has also been used versatilely in the decoration of the premises.
A hybrid structure combining steel, wood and concrete was chosen as the frame solution. Structure lowers the building’s carbon dioxide emissions both during the construction phase and during its life cycle. Framework consists from Stora Enso’s cross laminated timber (CLT) tiles, Versowood’s glulam beams and Peikko’s DELTABEAM® composite beams. Puurakentajat Oy, which erected the frame of the building, has previously contracted with similar buildings, for example in kindergarten projects in Helsinki.
The flexible hybrid structure enables easy modification of the building. This extends the life cycle of the building and thus also makes the investment more profitable. Special attention has been paid to the multi-purpose facilities and they are designed to be as flexible as possible. For example, the building has no load-bearing partitions at all, and there are only two reinforced staircases in the entire building.
The building also saves the environment by utilizing local renewable energy. The building’s main form of heating is geothermal heat, and the solar panels installed on the roof generate electricity for the property’s use. Several technical solutions that increase energy efficiency and comfort have been utilized in the premises, for example, sensors measuring carbon dioxide concentration have been attached to the interior ceiling.
The building was completed in autumn 2023
Teaching in the new premises of the high school of natural sciences started in autumn 2023. Construction work started in the summer of 2021, when the construction company SRV and Helsingin Yliopistokiinteistöt Oy signed an agreement on the implementation of the new building. The new facilities were needed because the original building on Mäkelänkatu in Käpylä became cramped as the number of students grew. The City of Helsinki is in the premises as a tenant of Helsingin Yliopistokiinteistöt Oy.
The goal of the project was a safe, healthy and appropriate learning environment for the use of more than 900 students and 60 teachers. The future users of the building were involved in the project from the beginning. Parties worked in close cooperation starting in the planning phase, so that the future solutions would serve the students in the best possible way. The project was implemented as a cooperative project management contract, with a total cost estimate of approximately 22 million euros. AFKS – Architects Frondelius+ Keppo+ Salmenperä was responsible for the school’s architectural design, and SRV was the main contractor. The size of the building is approximately 5,400 square meters.
Our services in the project
We carried out fire engineering planning for the site, gave expert opinions and performed an inspection. Since it was a wooden building whose number of floors (five), height (22 m) and planned number of people (1700) exceeded the limits of fire class P2 (4 floors, height 14 m, 1000 people), we used performance-based fire safety design. Performance-based design made it possible to implement the building to fire class P0.
With the fire simulation and the risk analysis based on it, it was possible to show that the wooden frame school building in question, which also has visible wooden surfaces, is at least as fire safe as the corresponding P1 fire class school building made according to the traditional table dimensioning requirements, whose load-bearing frame is made of non-combustible materials. In terms of structures, the risk of collapse is lower than in the traditionally designed reference building, and in terms of personal safety, the building is essentially safer than the traditionally designed reference building that was used in comparison (this is based on sprinkler system).
The project was an opening in terms of the fact that similar requirements could also be applied to other similar school buildings in the future and serves as a good basis for the possible extension of fire regulations to higher wooden frame school buildings.