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Meeting places are public areas at traffic junctions, stairs, lobbies and corridors where, randomly or by arrangement, you meet other people. Here I introduce the concept KIVA-place to describe just such a place, located in a public area, primarily social, which clearly stands out from the surrounding areas.

KIVA means round, partially underground ceremony rooms originally built by Pueblo Indians. The word also appears in the Inuit language, there is no exact translation. The term has been used at least by the Canadian architect Greg Hasiuk in the schools he designed for the skullcap area in Nunavut, Canada's northernmost territory (ZoomInfo 2007). The school buildings he designed include a central, circular, amphitheatre-like assembly area connected to traffic areas. For me, KIVA is also a meeting place, but the functional content is broader than in Inuit schools. KIVA - the place covers all types of interaction, from staying to studying: resting, socializing, reading, playing cards, group work, independent study, holding a meeting, wandering online, etc. KIVA is usually not large in scope, but it doesn't have to be small either. It is a common place for everyone, but not necessarily a central one. The most important thing is that the place is public or semi-public, easily accessible and comfortable. It gives an opportunity for both social interaction and studying. It can also be a place of retreat, simultaneously with other activities or separately.

In a KIVA place, you must be able to sit or lounge comfortably, and some kind of table top is also in place, but not always necessary. Art can be there, made by the students themselves or acquired from elsewhere. The lighting does not have to be bright general light, indirect light and daylight create the atmosphere. A green plant is always good. Naturally, the sound world should not be disturbing, but suitable background noise can sometimes be quite good. The place can be visible or sheltered, you can see from there, you can also see there. There are no uniform concrete requirements for a place, there can be a wide variety of them, as many as there are schools. The most important thing is the atmosphere and the fact that you don't have to just stand there.

  • Kuuskorpi M, 2012. Tulevaisuuden luokkahuone. Käyttäjälähtöinen muunneltava ja joustava opetustila.Väitöskirja. Turun yliopisto, Kasvatustieteiden tiedekunta, Kasvatustieteiden laitos.

  • Nuikkinen K. 2005. Terveellinen ja turvallinen koulurakennus. Helsinki: Opetushallitus.

  • Nuikkinen K. 2009. Koulurakennus ja hyvinvointi. Teoriaa ja käytännön kokemuksia peruskouluarkkitehtuurista. Väitöskirja. Tampereen yliopisto, Kasvatustieteiden laitos.

  • Opetushallitus. 2012. OPS 2016 - Esi- ja perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteiden uudistaminen. Luettu Joulukuussa 2012.

  • Opetushallitus. 2004. Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2004. Helsinki: Opetushallitus. 

  • Zoominfo. 2007. Number TEN speaks at the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, July 2007. School Design in the Far North, Lessons for the South. Case Study: Arviat High School in Nunavut, Canada. Luettu tammikuussa 2013.

Picture list and texts:

All images © Jukka Sulonen

  • Picture 1. The KIVA place in the cell lobby is also a space that connects the teaching spaces. (KaakkurI school, Oulu)

  • Picture 2. In the central lobby of the traffic area, you can see and be seen. (Mäntsälä high school)

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