0 of 0 for ""

The new wooden-framed campus building of Järvenpää gives a great setting for the STEP training of the Church Resources Agency


The new wooden-framed campus building of Järvenpää gives a great setting for the STEP training of the Church Resources Agency

The new flagship of STEP training, the new campus building of Järvenpää, offers a healthy and comfortable learning environment for students of many different fields right by Lake Tuusulanjärvi. Sweco has taken part in the project’s design, project management and cost accounting from the very beginning.

Under the name of Seurakuntaopisto, the Church Resources Agency has offered STEP training to thousands of students since 1946, now in nearly 20 different municipalities. A new building is under construction on Järvenpää Campus by Lake Tuusulanjärvi. The structure will be built next to the main building, replacing a former sports hall. At the same time, the campus area will develop into the new flagship of STEP training, answering to the rising demand in the Uusimaa region.

“The reasons for this project were the aging building stock that is reaching the end of its service life as well as the demolition of several buildings completed in the 1930s–1950s due to their indoor air problems,” says Antti Kervinen, the Head of Property of the Church Resources Agency. The new construction will be opened in autumn 2023, and it will house premises for a vocational college, adult education centre and work life training. Other operators in the campus include Family Service Centre Tikkarelli of the Uudenmaan vammaispalvelusäätiö disability foundation, a church training centre, Restaurant Yolanda and a STEP daycare centre.

One of the main objectives for the design was the use of wood, which fits well into the culturhistorical landscape of Lake Tuusulanjärvi. “We also wanted to create a building that honours sustainable development,” Kervinen summarises. The project did not start completely without a hitch. The world changed in just one night when Russia invaded Ukraine on the same day the contractors were due to leave their offers. This created uncertainty for all the parties. “I have to tip my hat to the board of our association for their dynamic decision to move forward with the campus project. Life must go on.”

A multifaceted building for a diverse plot

The large building of 3,000 floor square metres comprises three different building sections, which means that there were quite a few variables in the project from the very beginning – starting with the placement of the building on the plot. The cost accounting has also been through several stages ever since the first budget price was calculated in spring 2021. “At first, we only had access to the architect’s sketches, but no information about the method of foundation, building services or the frame structure,” says Sweco’s cost expert Antti Minkkinen.

More information became available gradually, as Sweco’s geotechnical engineer Juho Kalliokuusi started assessing the plot’s boundary conditions based on soil studies commissioned by the client. The thickness of the soil’s surface layer of clay and silt varied from half a metre to three metres on the plot. “If there had been more than three metres of clay, piling the building would have been necessary. Now, we only needed to change the soil mass.”

The geotechnical engineering also covered the yard area. In addition to the clay, the plot featured dense layers of soil as well as open rock. A small, surprising hillock was also discovered underneath the future building. Kalliokuusi figured out the stormwater management together with Sweco’s HVAC specialist. “We made sure that the new construction will not compromise the stormwater management. In fact, the new retention piping improves it even further.”

Low temperatures sufficient for a geothermal heat pump

Sweco has been responsible for the building services system of the entire new construction, which made it easier to integrate the different systems together. The reviews of renewable forms of energy started from the very first planning meeting. “The profitability calculations and the feasibility study were in favour of geothermal heat,” says Arto Sarhela, the Engineering Manager of Sweco’s HVAC technology. The plot had plenty of room, and the geothermal heat wells could be almost completely hidden among the trees.

The geothermal heat system utilises an energy-efficient low-temperature network, which means that the efficiency of the geothermal heat pump is high. According to Sarhela, costs were only cut back in things that do not impact the building’s appearance or functionality. The ventilation, for example, is controlled in large sections, but its adjustability has not been compromised. “We can control the system’s power based on the usage rate, which guarantees high-quality indoor air.”

Fire safety is a major matter in a wooden building, so the whole structure has been protected with a sprinkler system designed by Sweco’s fire consultant. “It ensured a better fire safety class for the building, reduced our insurance payment and made structural choices easier,” Sarhela states.

The solid wood frame can be admired indoors

Sweco’s experts of wooden construction made the first comparisons between the different alternatives even before the building permit stage. “We chose solid wood CLT elements for the frame and the exterior walls. These do not require any additional insulation,” says Riina Savikko, Sweco’s project manager of structural engineering.

Cutting costs was possible by using other, lighter CLT elements for the roof and intermediate floors, as well as ribbed panels and concrete casts. However, the wild fluctuations of timber prices was a challenge for the cost accounting. “About 1,400 cubic metres of CLT will be used for the campus, so even minor price fluctuations have an impact,” Minkkinen states.

Along the way, the costs were pushed down by reducing the building’s square metres, but these compromises cannot be seen in the architecture. The rugged wooden joints and the solid beam columns and glulam beams are visible in the high campus lobby, and wood has also been used for the lobby stairs, doubling as a seating area. The wooden lath cladding of the facade finishes off the modern appearance. “The element design of this structure takes a great deal of time, as there are hundreds of different machining processes and details,” Savikko says.

Thorough and rewarding decision-making

Sweco’s project management has brought together the different engineering fields and monitored the quality, costs and schedule of the implementation. “The entire project group has extensive experience of wooden construction, and the work has gone really smoothly thanks to this,” says Sweco’s Project Engineer Heidi Vanhanen.

She praises the sincere and active approach of Antti Kervinen for the great team spirit and clear requirements this has created for the project. “We are both quite thorough personalities, so decision-making has taken some time, but it has also been very rewarding!”

Antti Kervinen’s efforts have also been noted by the designers thanks to his exceptionally comprehensive initial information. Kervinen himself believes this can be credited to the dialogue with the users and commitment to the work. “We have listened to the teachers carefully and have worked together to produce as exact data as possible on what is done on the campus and what is needed.”

Kervinen thinks that the whole project group has put 120% into this project, working towards the same goals. The personalities have been highly compatible, too. “Sweco provided us with a professional group that has shown true interest in our project.”

Contact Us!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.