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Solid wood shines at Ingå’s largest Swedish-speaking school

The Kyrkfjärdens school in Ingå is an impressive combination of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and carefully selected concrete structures. Users can enjoy the feel of wood in the classrooms and shared facilities, which increases the daily wellbeing at the school.

A school has stood by the river in Ingå, between the church and the local heritage museum, since 1949. In April 2023, the old building was replaced by the wooden Kyrkfjärdens skola, which is the town’s largest Swedish-speaking school. This was the seventh wooden school and daycare centre project for Rakennuspartio, the company in charge of the demolition and construction work, and commissioning the new designs.

‘It was really beneficial for the design guidance aspect that we already knew the architect and Sweco’s structural engineers,’ says Operational Manager Sebastian Hallén from Rakennuspartio. ‘These familiar designers were able to tell straightaway what we wanted.’

The greatest challenge in the turnkey project was the sharp increase in the price of building materials, in addition to which the worksite phase involved certain difficulties too. The work on the foundations, carried out in autumn 2021, was slowed down by the early winter that arrived in November. ‘However, the design costs did stay well within the budget,’ says Hallén.

The school was completed, without compromising on quality, under a weather shelter, and around 200 pre-schoolers and schoolchildren will begin their schoolyear on time in the autumn. In the summer, the only things left are the demolition of an old section and adding finishing touches to the yard area. Hallén is happy about the initial feedback from users. ‘The users have been impressed with the new school, which is undoubtedly one of Finland’s finest.’

Kyrkfjärden looks and feels like a wooden school

In wooden school buildings, special attention is always paid to their fire safety, and at Kyrkfjärden it has been ensured with the natural flame retardancy of solid wood. The building’s fire rating was intentionally raised from P2 to P1, so that it could be constructed without a sprinkler system.

‘That will reduce the maintenance costs and allowed us to leave some of the CLT elements and other wooden surfaces visible,’ says Project Manager Susanna Friman from Sweco’s wooden construction team.

The wooden structures are visible on the inside surfaces of the classrooms’ exterior walls, in the lobbies and on the bannisters. The main staircase and music hall floors are parquet, and comfortable textile tiles have been used in the other areas, because Kyrkfjärden is a ‘socks only school’. Wood has been used as cladding in the facade, and it hides the CLT elements, which are protected by weatherboard. The presence of wood improves the indoor air quality and increases user wellbeing in daily schoolwork.

‘The building really looks, feels and smells like a wooden school,’ Friman says.

Concrete structures have their place

A total of 1,500 cubic metres  of solid wood has been used at Kyrkfjärden. The impressively high roof of the school is also made from wood, which was made possible by using two nail plates (in Finnish) on top of each other. Additionally, concrete structures play an important role in the school building.

‘Also the building’s hollow core slab base floor, foundation walls and air raid shelter are made from concrete,’ says Friman. The more unusual structural solutions include the intermediate floor’s CLT and concrete composite slab. ‘This solution is relatively rare in Finland, but we have had many positive experiences with it.’

Rakennuspartio is also used to using different materials depending on the most suitable option for each application. ‘Of course we would be happy to see wood becoming more commonly used, not least of all because of its smaller carbon footprint,’ Hallén says.


Picture: Arkkitehdit Frondelius+Keppo+Salmenperä Oy

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