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Co-created concepts facilitate the PPP implementation of seven schools and daycare centres in Espoo

The City of Espoo is building seven new schools and daycare centres for about 4,000 children in the timeframe of a few years. Sweco’s structural and architectural engineers helped YIT to develop complete concepts that allow for fast implementation and efficient joint procurements.

YIT is building seven schools and daycare centres for the City of Espoo under the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model. The Partnership Schools project company formed by YIT and Meridiam is responsible for the planning, financing, permit processes, construction and 20-year maintenance of the sites. The new premises will be used by approximately 4,000 children and young people every year.

“It would have been difficult for the City of Espoo to build such a large number of new schools and daycare centres within this deadline without resorting to joint procurement,” says Project Manager Heikki Kurtti from YIT. Grouping several construction projects into one also made sense to YIT, as they did not have to start from scratch at each site. “Coordinating the whole project and managing the amount of work has been easier and the results are consistent.”

Life cycle school concept supports uniform structure choices

Sweco started the main structural engineering of all sites in 2019. Together with YIT, Sweco developed the life cycle school concept that can also be applied in YIT’s future life cycle projects. “We aim to improve the concept all the time together with design management, the site and maintenance,” says Project Manager Timo Pekkinen from Sweco.

Structural engineers developed a structure type library specifically for PPP sites, according to which the same basic solutions are used at different sites. “Each building has the same pillar-beam frames, roofs and facade details,” says Pekkinen. The exterior walls are load-bearing shell elements with board or brick cladding across the board.

According to Heikki Kurtti, the design and development of the roof’s wood element system was particularly important. “It allows us to waterproof the roof and buildings of each site quickly without the need for long-term weather protection.”

The structure type library also includes instructions for different base floor, intermediate floor and roof structures even if not all of the solutions are needed at each site. “For example, the daycare centres will not have music classes and the schools do not need a space for kids’ wrestling,” Kurtti says. However, it is easier to calculate the costs when the same details are repeated and, for example, the partition wall 5 is the same at each site. “This allowed us to group procurements together in a practical manner.”

Two agencies responsible for architectural design

The principal and architectural design of the extensive project was carried out by Lukkaroinen Architects and Linja Architects, now a part of Sweco. “All of the seven sites were designed at the same time, which would have been impossible for a single agency,” says Juha-Pekka Niinimaa, Learning Environment Design Director from Sweco. Sweco was responsible for the design of the Perkkaa school and youth centre, the Pohjois-Tapiola comprehensive school and the Kuitinmäki school.

The City of Espoo demanded accessibility, safety and consideration for individual needs from the PPP sites. “Together with YIT, the architects and the pedagogic designer, we developed a functional school concept that takes into account pedagogic goals, efficiency of premises and adaptability.”

The plans for the premises comply with the City of Espoo’s Learning Village concept. The heart of the buildings is the space that houses the cafeteria and the lobby and the stage in it, which leads to the gymnasium in most of the sites, allowing large events to be hosted there. “The lobby of most sites also includes a spectator staircase called the giant’s stairs,” Niinimaa says.

The appearance of each school is designed to blend in with the environment. “However, all sites use the same durable materials, such as unplastered brick and fibre-cement boards,” says Niinimaa. The yard concept is also modified to be consistent with each site and sustainable. In addition, all sites have a space reserved for solar panels and they are heated with geothermal energy.

Construction company kept up to date in a predictive and open manner

The PPP sites comply with an operating model in which the structural design process is led by the Project Manager together with the person in charge of the planning schedule. “Not a single planning deadline has been missed,” says Pekkinen with satisfaction. Heikki Kurtti also believes that the deadlines have been met with precision. “It has made my job easy.”

Each site also has a designated Project Engineer who knows the building and can answer any technical questions quickly. Sweco’s Project Engineer Marjo Tapio says that the PPP schools are part of the City of Espoo’s Koulut kuntoon school improvement programme, which is why the building physics of the buildings is tested with the Kuivaketju10 operating model. “It had an important role in structural design, and we constantly went over different solutions with the moisture control coordinator in meetings.”

Heikki Kurtti says that everything has been well in order and it has been really delightful to work with the entire team. “I have been made aware of everything that needs to be discussed without having to ask, often with suggested solutions,” he says. Any potential problems have been addressed together before the risks have actually realised. “It is easy to value the work performed by Sweco. I have obtained a professional’s view in every matter.”

Marjo Tapio says that the group spirit among the project team has reached the level at the PPP sites where they can contact each other and work together with a low threshold and ease. “Communication is excellent, largely thanks to Heikki Kurtti’s superb design management!”

The Pohjois-Tapiola comprehensive school, Perkkaa school and daycare centre and Nauriskaski school were all completed in time in the summer of 2022. The Nöykkiönniitty daycare centre, Kilo school and daycare centre and Kuitinmäki primary school will be handed over to the users by 2024.

Pictures: Kuitinmäki primary school  (above), Pohjois-Tapiola comprehensive school (in the middle of text).

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