Thousands of students are starting a new term at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences today in Helsinki, and settling in to a brand new campus.
It’s part of a multi-million euro investment at the Myllypuro site in east Helsinki, where eventually 6000 students studying social services, health care, real estate and construction will be based in four new state-of-the-art buildings.
Today, 3000 students will be have classes at the first new building to be opened. It combines research facilities, modern architecture and interior design to create striking multi-functional spaces for learning.
The remaining three buildings in what will become Metropolia’s biggest campus site in the capital city region will be ready to move in later this year.
“Students can find a totally new education atmosphere. It is totally different than the place they are coming from. We have transferred from different campuses students and lecturers to here, and the way of teaching and learning here is much much modernised when you look at those places they are coming from” says Simo Mustila, Metropolia’s Vice President, and Director of Finance and Administration.
“This is the first step. It’s the first building, and we will have three more during this year” Mustila explains.
Open design atmosphere
Located right next to Myllypuro metro station, the new compact campus grows up, rather than spreading out. It’s a small footprint, but intended to be accessible for members of the local community as well.
The first floor library, a learning space, meeting rooms and cafeteria are all open to the public, and Metropolia staff hope their new neighbours will come to discover the open spaces inside.
“With local citizens and entrepreneurs, on this first floor everyone can come here and use the restaurant services. We are beside the metro station so it is really easy to come here, and of course we go outside the building and we become part of citizens’ everyday lives” Simo Mustila tells News Now Finland.
That openness extends to faculties as well. Engineering and nursing, which had been separate before, will now come together and share a space at the new campus building, which functions in addition to Metropolia’s three other campuses in Arabia, Myyrmäki and Leppävaara.
“We really believe it’s a good platform for innovation and new ideas” says Mustila.
Architecture brings innovation
The new Myllypuro campus has been designed by renowned Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamäki, who has a distinguished track record designing universities and schools in Finland, as well as many buildings overseas.
“We are not designing primary schools, secondary schools or universities, but creating good learning evironments” says Mahlamäki, who incorporated wide hallways for socialising, carved out areas as student hangouts, and made classrooms with movable power points and furniture for flexible learning.
Mahlamäki also exposed the guts of the building: its ventilation shafts, plant rooms and aluminium ducts, from the basement workshops to the roof of the structure, so that engineering students can learn practically, and the building itself becomes one giant classroom.
“In Metropolia maybe the biggest issue with the interiors was that the environment has to be very flexible. We don’t think in very old fashioned way that there are only teaching rooms or spaces for staff. Instead all the people can utilize all the facilities that we have created there” Mahlamäki tells News Now Finland.
Each of the four buildings will have a different colour scheme inside, and some of the materials use to clad the exteriors – Mahlamäki calls them “a group of sculptures” – are also used on the inside.
“There is a certain type of dialogue between the interior and exterior. Our intention was to create light, white interiors and being also quite careful with colours. There are some areas with quite bright colours with yellow. The next tower will be blue, the next tower will be red, there is a certain theme of using colours” says the architect.
Funding for construction
The new Metropolia campus has been funded by the City of Helsinki, and financed by selling off some of their more valuable city centre real estate to consolidate Metropolia activities at this new site, and their three other campuses around the capital.
There will be more than 60,000 sq metres of new university space when it’s all completed later this year.
“I feel that it’s a privilege to work here, it’s a new future for Finland and for Finnish students” says Metropolia’s Simo Mustila.
“I can see here the smiles and the rising ideas, new ideas, and the possibilities that we can have at Metropolia in the near future when we have these new buildings… what Metropolia can be after one or two years, I can’t even imagine”.