Mansikkala wooden school

The new wooden Mansikkala School rises by the shoreside of the Vuoksi river, in the middle of the brand new school campus. This largest investment by the City of Imatra of all time is a brave step towards more environmentally conscious new construction.

The wooden Mansikkala School is a part of the renewal of Imatra’s school network, where the city is transitioning from small schools to three larger school campuses. Constructing the largest wooden school in Finland has been a unique project to all the parties, both in terms of its scope and its implementation methods. The wooden school building is also a great example of the City of Imatra’s willingness to perform concrete actions for the environment. 

“As a large new construction site, Mansikkala has been a great opportunity to do things differently. We want to be responsible in terms of the climate and the environment at all levels of construction,” says Lassi Nurmi, Managing Director of the City of Imatra’s development company Mitra. In addition to constructing the school from wood, geothermal heat will be utilised for the school’s heating and cooling systems. 

Life cycle model requires great planning and workable compromises 

The wooden school will be implemented using a life cycle model which involves YIT handling the maintenance for the next 20 years, in addition to designing and constructing the building. “The life cycle model is very well-suited to this site because we need to integrate a large amount of differing space requirements and perspectives into it,” says Matti Varstala, YIT’s Design Director for Life Cycle Projects.“Through cooperation, we have created a building that will remain reliable long into the future.” 

YIT wanted project partners that had the competence for this demanding wooden construction. Oiva Wood Solutions is in charge of the implementation and installation of the wooden elements. Sweco has been in charge of the project’s preliminary design, element design and main structural design. “The project required extensive wooden design competence, and we utilised our professionals from all over Finland,” says Hannes Tähtinen, Sweco’s Wood Technology Manager. 

YIT, Oiva Wood and Sweco have all worked together before. “In addition to our impressive wooden construction references, we could be sure that we work well together,” says Vesa Saarelainen, Oiva Wood’s Sales Manager. He values the straightforward and fair communication between the partners. “We have been able to manage even difficult issues quickly and smoothly!” 

Wooden element construction met the client’s needs 

In autumn 2020, about 1,350 children and young people, from daycare-aged children to upper secondary school students, will start their school year in the new school. Group sizes tend to vary in modern schooling, and the school will also be used as a multipurpose centre for all residents. This is why the frame and facade of the school have been made from wooden elements, using an adaptable module division. 

“Together, we created a system that is best suited to the client’s needs and the technical implementation of which is cost-efficient,” says Saarelainen from Oiva Wood. 

When the wooden elements are built in controlled factory conditions as far as possible, the high prefabrication rate and measurement accuracy can significantly shorten the time needed on the site. The City of Imatra is now convinced of the benefits of wood element construction. “It has made a massive difference in terms of schedule. We have managed to interlace the design and implementation processes,” Nurmi says. 

Digital tools were also used in production and installations 

Within the tight schedule, the 3D information model has been an essential tool for work task division. 

“Practical experience has shown that modelling helps decrease mistakes, especially in wooden construction, and reveals possible difficulties ahead of time,” Saarelainen says. “It would also be difficult to discern many structural details of production and installation with more traditional methods.” Oiva Wood’s factory also had the use of Sweco’s SmartDrawings virtual tool, which enables viewing the demonstrative information model of the wooden element to be manufactured on a tablet device. 

Varstala hopes that wooden construction will, in time, become a similar routine process as concrete construction. “At the moment, public wood construction at this scale requires the client to have a strong desire to use wood specifically. Solutions are still looked for one site at a time,” he says. “However, wood construction has an immense amount of development potential, and all we need now is more successful experiences in the vein of Mansikkala. A change will materialise one project at a time!”