We are now in the city of Pudasjärvi, which is located in the province of Oulu in Northern Finland. The city itself has a population of 8,242 and covers an area of 5,867.24 km2, 228.67 km2 of which is water. The population density is 1.46 inhabitants per km2. By area, Pudasjärvi is the second largest town in Finland and one of the largest in the world. Pudasjärvi is famed for its nature, and is the home of the southernmost fell area in Finland, Syöte.
The city of Pudasjärvi decided to build a school campus which combines modern design with the local identity as well as supporting new ways of learning. The building has already become a record holder in that it is constructed almost solely out of log timber or hirsi – a Finnish specialty – and is the largest of its kind worldwide. The log timber came from a local company and the project employed local people, keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum thanks to the short transportation distances. During the construction period up until May 2016, international visitors flocked to the site from faraway places such as South Korea and Australia. The timber school has drawn so much international interest as a building site because its campus of four connected buildings makes it the largest timber lodge in the world. Engineers had to tackle a variety of construction challenges and solutions in terms of the material.
The proprietors of the building complex themselves say they are most excited by a particular group of visitors: the actual students who will receive an education within the walls of the record-breaking timber school. The Pudasjärvi timber building complex will be home to an elementary school, middle school and high school as well as a community college as of autumn 2016. It is to be maintained using what is called a life cycle model. Building firm Lemminkäinen Talo Oy will be responsible for the building's upkeep over the next 25 years, relieving the burden on the city community.
Key features of the building are its diversity and adaptability. For instance, the middle school classrooms are built around the lobby area and can all be combined into one large learning environment. The roofs of the lobby areas are supported by load-bearing beams because the wood in the walls will contract over the years. The contractor's rationale for using timber was to overcome the severe indoor air problems suffered in the old school. The walls in the new complex are solid wood, and the builders trust it will resolve any mold or air issues.
The school has space for 800 pupils. In addition to the various schools, the building also integrates space for non-governmental institutes and a sports club. The four buildings together cover a total surface area of 9.700 m2. The city of Pudasjärvi wanted to invest in a healthy and modern multipurpose learning environment. Previous school buildings had indoor air quality problems, which meant the materials for the new structure had to meet strict indoor air quality standards.
The lobby and canteen facilities need to have a new, durable, easy-to-clean, low-emission and comfortable floor which does not contain PVC or softeners and can be applied without adhesives. The floor must also be resistant to high traffic levels as well. Architect office Lukkaroinen Oy chose Sika ComfortFloor® as the ideal solution for easy maintenance and comfort. The elastic and resilient Sikafloor®-330 coating was applied to the smoothed floor surface. After drying, non-yellowing matt surface coat Sikafloor®-304 W was applied on top for UV resistance. Staff at the facilities truly appreciates the floor system, commenting "your legs don't feel tired after a day's work, you really feel the elasticity."
The mayor of the city underlines that they chose timber as a building material as they had encountered huge problems with air quality in the past, and the lifecycle of concrete public buildings had been very short (only 30-40 years), compounded by the fact that repairs had not been sustainably successful.
Timber effectively balances the indoor heat and humidity conditions. The material is ecological, renewable and biodegradable. Natural clean wood reduces
stress, generates positive feelings and has sound-deadening effects. This autumn, school will begin for hundreds of pupils. There are already rumors that
a large number of them plan to study engineering because they are so happy with their new surroundings that they want to create timber buildings themselves later.