The Monikko school centre in Leppävaara is good for the occupants and the environment

  • Early childhood education and care
  • Teaching and instruction
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Published: 10.1.2022 15.01Updated: 7.4.2022 9.35
Maria Laurén-Lindholm, Elli Nylund, Janne Oinonen and Riikka Immonen enjoy the opportunities provided by the new school building.Photo: Sami Heiskanen

Leppävaara’s new and modern Monikko school centre provides a unified learning path from early childhood education to upper comprehensive school. The education is provided in Finnish and Swedish.

Bright, spacious, stylish and surprisingly quiet are good descriptors of the Monikko school centre in Leppävaara. Those entering the main lobby are met with a pleasant library with reading corners as well as a spacious auditorium with a separate lobby area. The windows let in plenty of natural light.

Monikko is home to the Finnish-speaking Leppävaara School, the Finnish-speaking Monikko day care centre, the Swedish-speaking school Alberga skola and the Swedish-speaking day care centre and preschool Alberga daghem och förskola. Currently, Monikko also serves as a temporary location for Kilo School.

The school centre provides facilities for education in Finnish and Swedish and early childhood education for a total of 1,300 children. Despite this, the corridors are quiet. The cheerful chatter begins once the school children come out to enjoy their break.

“The acoustics and sound insulation are excellent so there have been no concerns about peace and quiet for school work,” says Principal of Alberga skola Maria Laurén-Lindholm, clearly pleased.

The Monikko school premises can adapt to many needs

The premises of the school centre have been designed to be modifiable and suitable for many uses. For example, movable partition walls can be used to join the majority of the classrooms together to form a larger space. The smaller rooms provide locations for working in small groups.

The staff members praise the modifiability wholeheartedly.

“The Monikko school premises were built according to Espoo’s own school planning guidelines, following the “learning village” model. The functionality of the solution is yet to be fully established as it has not been possible to use the premises to the intended extent due to the coronavirus pandemic,” says Principal of Leppävaara School Janne Oinonen.

Our staff has been involved in the planning of the premises from the start.

“We got to examine the construction drawings and tour a variety of schools to learn about their effective solutions,” says Head of Alberga daghem och förskola Elli Nylund.

“For our day care side, for example, we gained a gym that is larger than normal, separate tiled space for water-related play, and a workshop for woodwork and handicrafts.” We take turns using the premises with Monikko’s Finnish-speaking day care centre.

Monikko provides education in Finnish and Swedish

In the corridors of Monikko, you can hear people speaking Finnish and Swedish. Combining Finnish- and Swedish-speaking education under the same roof is not exactly a conventional solution. The decision was made at Monikko for practical reasons: constructing shared spaces in the same building was cost efficient. The schools in the Monikko complex have shared gyms, crafts workshops and music classrooms.

Even though the large building aims for cost efficiency, providing children with a unified learning path from early education to upper comprehensive school was more important than savings. Familiarity with the premises and teachers helps children transition easily from day care to school and from one grade level to the next.

In practice, the implementation has had many more positive effects.

“In our Swedish-speaking units, for example, multiculturality has not been present in the same way as on the Finnish-speaking side. It is wonderful that the children now get to experience a variety of cultures here, too. I also believe that it benefits Finnish-speaking children to hear Swedish on a daily basis. This helps them realise at an early age that there is a Swedish-speaking population in Espoo,” Elli describes.

The children have acclimatised well to daily life in the new school and day care environment, and friendships are forged during breaks despite the language differences. In addition to this, the day care centres and schools cooperate in other ways.

“Both day care centres have specific friend groups on the other side. The get-togethers involve greeting one another and singing songs in both languages,” Elli says.

Head of the Monikko day care centre Riikka Immonen is equally happy about the joint activities.

“I find that our cooperation improves language awareness among both children and adults and provides us with the opportunity to highlight traditions from both language groups and hold celebrations together.”

The environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient Monikko

The Monikko school centre looks extremely modern, but the building is actually an efficient combination of old and new elements. The complex includes an old school building completed in 1939, which was spared and renovated to meet modern technical and functional requirements.

The energy consumption of the school centre has been optimised by dividing the indoor environments into a variety of zones. The heating system combines both geothermal heat and district heating; thanks to the geothermal heat, the building’s carbon dioxide emissions are 65% lower than with traditional district heating. Some of the electricity is produced with solar panels positioned on the roof of the new section. Moreover, the better-than-normal heat insulation of the exterior walls makes the school centre energy efficient.

In the day-to-day school and day care centre environment, the energy efficiency is evident in functional solutions. For example, lights go out automatically when a room is left empty.

Text Pi Mäkilä
Photo Sami Heiskanen

Leppävaara
  • Work for Espoo