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Technology in SAKKY new campus has been designed to support the comfort and safety of students

SAKKY’s new company serves as a gateway to the innovative Savilahti area

The lights at the new campus of Savo Vocational College are shining bright both literally and figuratively. The technology has been designed to support the comfort and safety of students and help them learn new things. The campus was built sustainably according to the Swan Ecolabel criteria.

The roughly 3,500 registered students of Savo Vocational College (SAKKY) moved to new premises in Kuopio in the autumn of 2022. The new buildings Voima, Virta and Valo replaced the old campus built in the 1950s on Presidentinkatu which was torn down as obsolete.

Use of space at the new campus is more efficient, which reduced the square metres by about 50%. Milla Lompola, the facility service manager of Savo Consortium for Education, is pleased with the new location in the rapidly developing Savilahti area, which is also home to Savonia University of Applied Sciences and the University of Eastern Finland. “Our campus now serves as a gateway to the entire innovative area.”

The building reacts to use through light art

The building method for the Savilahti area, ‘Valon kaava’ (The plan of light) guides the lighting of the campus, which aims to enliven the learning environment in a variety of ways. “Lighting has been used to furnish the campus with delightful, playful and interactive elements that activate students,” says Sweco’s Lighting Designer Riku Pirtilä. He is responsible for the exterior and facade lighting of the campus.

Lighting designers had the opportunity to create a light art piece for the glass wall of the bistro in the main lobby. A media server controlled by a DMX-based system runs videos on the glass wall pixels and changes the content based on the number of people present and the decibels of sound. “The lighting makes the building something of a living being that reacts to the use and atmosphere of the premises,” Pirtilä says.

Certain interior spaces also feature impressive lighting to highlight the architect’s vision and the handiwork of Sweco’s structural engineers. “A steel walkway, a restaurant mezzanine and a steel staircase that leads up to the third floor are suspended from the lobby ceiling,” says Jari Korhonen, Department Manager for Structural Engineering at Sweco, describing the most impressive details.

The campus is filled with bold and exceptional solutions, such as the lighting that highlights the ventilation units behind the end windows. Lompola is happy with how the lighting solutions were visualised beforehand. “We were able to see the designer’s vision very clearly and how the end result will change if the lighting power is altered, for example.”

Unusually demanding project

In addition to lighting design, Sweco was involved in the design of the building services and structures of the campus with a wide range of experts. Designing a vocational college corresponds to the design of business premises, but the requirements on building services engineering are higher for a public building. The same campus houses more than 10 different fields as well as a fully-featured professional kitchen, machine shop, beauty salon and car paint shop.

“In terms of structural design, the challenges involved the various requirements posed by the premises – for example, the floor in the metal work area has to withstand machines weighing thousands of kilos and the car repair shop’s pillar cranes require separate foundations two metres below floor level,” Korhonen explains.

According to Sweco’s HVAC Department Manager Lauri Paanala, special HVAC systems and energy recycling solutions were widely incorporated in addition to traditional HVAC systems. “For example, the teaching kitchen features washing agent lines, biowaste collection pipes and CO2-refrigerated cooling systems that are equivalent to those of a professional kitchen.”

The electrical engineering focused on safety technology and ease of use. For example, the car paint shop presents an explosion hazard. “In addition to this, many of the work spaces feature safety relays and switches that protect people against contact voltage,” says Sweco’s Project Manager of Building Services Engineering Pekka Ullgren. All electrical devices have been made from chlorine-free materials. “This ensures low smoke generation in the event of fire.”

The campus complies with the Swan Ecolabel criteria

The Savilahti Campus is SAKKY’s fourth educational institution built according to the Swan Ecolabel criteria. “This stems from our strategy that hinges on ecology and sustainability,” Lompola. As such, longevity and easy maintenance were the focuses for all technology. “We want the building to remain usable for at least 50 years.”

The swan ecolabel encourages the use of natural light, which is why it features the a Human Centric Lighting (HCL) system. “It adjust the colour temperature and intensity of lighting according to the daily cycle,” Pirtilä says. Exterior lighting is controlled with DALI-based time switches and light-sensitive switches, which saves energy especially around midnight.

Moreover, users can control the lighting and other campus technology remotely with the KNX building automation system. “The aim is to reduce energy consumption and keep the energy levels of students high,” Ullgren says in summary. Building automation also enables demand response towards the national grid. “It is possible to react quickly to price spikes.”

As a result, energy is closely monitored at the campus and the consumption of the various educational fields are measured with dozens of meters. The area-specific metering also covers carbon dioxide content and interior temperatures. “Energy class A is the baseline, which is why as much energy as possible is collected and recycled at the campus,” Paanala adds.

The design solutions leave room for the future

In terms of building services engineering, the vocational college’s operations are so specialised that every single functional change requires extensive alterations to the technology on the premises. That said, it was possible to pay attention to adaptability in structural engineering.

“The composite frame features concrete pillars and beams as well as load-bearing core elements to ensure a nearly contiguous exterior wall line,” Korhonen describes. The position of the partition walls along the exterior walls are only limited by the window openings. Thanks to the pillars, the middle floor areas do not feature load-bearing partition walls, which is why corridor locations can be changed easily later on, for example.

According to Lompola, the users have been very happy with the campus. “The need for changes and repairs has been extremely low over the course of the first year.”

One cause for the satisfaction is the fact that students were able to express their wishes beforehand through 114 workshops. In addition to this, the principles of slow design were utilised in the lighting design for the campus. “It isn’t always necessary to fully complete every solution for the users. Instead, it can be a good idea to give them the opportunity to impact the ultimate look during use,” Pirtilä says. The colours and movements of the light art piece can be used to communicate about important events on campus and across the globe.

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