Oulu University Teacher Training School, Linnanmaa Unit

Oulu University Teacher Training School is part of the university’s faculty of education. It is tasked with providing high-quality basic education and organising teaching practice that is part of teacher training and continued education for teachers. Pedagogical research, trial and development activities are also part of its responsibilities. Because of this special task, it is natural that experimental, innovative learning environment development projects are carried out at its various units.

Collaboration and community focus as goals

As communal and dialogue-based work methods were implemented, it became increasingly evident that new furniture solutions can promote collaboration among teachers and between teachers and pupils and to strengthen communal operating culture. In space and furniture design, special care was taken to ensure that the premises were suitable for each grade. Oulu University Teacher Training School has strong traditions of teachers working in pairs. This was taken into account in the design. Classroom spaces consist of units for classes that open up to a unit lobby, which can be used for larger groups. The multipurpose lobby equipped with adaptable furniture can be divided into smaller spaces for individuals and groups.

Flexible and appropriate spaces

In line with the goals of the new national core curriculum, the spaces were furnished to be adaptable and to facilitate a wide range of changing teaching and learning situations. Mobile furniture equipped with wheels enables teachers to work in pairs and allows classes to engage in individual activities or to study in pairs and groups, depending on the teaching situation. Furniture from the classrooms can also be moved to the lobby shared by the unit’s classes to transform it into a space suitable for joint activities. In the choice of seating for the lobby, the wall was utilised as storage: when not in use, have the seats mounted on the walls with magnets does not block access routes. Also, the Amphi seating group moves on wheels and can be grouped or spread out to create a stand for events. Being covered with fabric, the furniture improves the acoustics in the larger space.

Fresh ideas for lobbies and corridors

Similarly to many other schools built a few decades ago, in Linnanmaa primary school, the corridors and lobbies, which were underused, presented the main challenge. The usage of these spaces was considered from a new perspective: the goal was to have them in use also during lessons and to transform them into spaces where pupils not only spend time during breaks but also study independently or in groups. With furniture, these spaces that had only been used for transferring from one location to another could be transformed into places for communal learning. By introducing portable screens and furniture suitable for group work into these spaces, they turned into novel learning environments that incorporate technology as an integral feature.

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