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Why are we placing too many students in schools?

In picture Albany Upper Secondary High School Aucklandista (Markku Lang)

Helsingin Sanomat wrote yesterday, May 24, 2021, that children suffer from noise at Kinnari school in Järvenpää. It is interesting that the school in Kinnar was planned in the fall of 2016 as a unified school with an average of 700-750 students. However, the new building completed in 2020 is 441 square meters smaller than the target and the school project fell short of its budget by almost three million euros! Currently, the number of students in Kinnari is 850.

I was involved as an expert in the preparation of the current planning instructions for the basic education of Rakennustietosäätiö, and I brought up for discussion that the need for space depends on the activities planned for the space. According to the previous building information foundation's space planning instructions (2008), approx. 2.1 m2 had to be set aside for a student in teaching spaces, but since then we have started to pay more and more attention to the form and quality of study and learning processes.

In 2021, more space is needed for discussion, debate, learning by doing, immersion, presentation, movement, experimentation, mockups, hackathons, etc. All these projects, processes and activities produce sound. In a good way. But when it becomes noisy is a multi-factorial question. For example, I will take only one element here - the space requirement of the operation.

2,1 - 2,3 - 4,0 m2

Over the course of more than a year, we had long and thorough discussions about the students' need for space, and I convinced the rest of the group that in activities according to the current concept of learning, the need for space in schools is different and it must also be taken into account in the guidelines.

Image from page 6 of the guidelines for the design of basic education facilities

I am satisfied with the current design guidelines and the thorough and multi-professional process that resulted in the guidelines. The construction costs of schools of the right size do not make a very big difference in the other costs during the school's life cycle compared to schools that are already too small, but the costs start to accumulate due to the nausea of children and adults as well. And quickly.


As the number of students decreases, more comprehensive planning is of course needed, e.g. in terms of school networks and the use of renewable energy, but at the same time it would be desirable that we take into account the spatial needs of activities in accordance with the concept of learning and the curriculum.

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