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ESPOO: Opinmäki Learning Centre

Municipal facility designed with the active participation of the citizenry that provide a wide range of educative activities and opportunities for people from 0 to 100 years old.

Espoo, located in the metropolitan area of Helsinki, has a population of 280,000 inhabitants, and is the second most populated city in Finland and the one with the highest growth rate. Thus, it is expected to grow by 24% over the next 15 years. Home to international companies and high tech businesses, Espoo is one of the largest innovation hubs in northern Europe.

In 2005, the City Council of Espoo put forward the idea of creating the Opinmäki Learning Centre in the Suurpelto district, a newly built residential area, making it a new pole of attraction in the city.

Opinmäki is a municipal facility designed to operate as a formal education center and also as a venue for educative and cultural activities and services for all the citizenry. It is a meeting place which has been designed and planned with the active participation of the inhabitants.

For this purpose, a Users Group was created, made up of neighbors and representatives of different cultural and educational institutions and services in the city, which put forward suggestions on the shared use of the facilities and its main operating principles, which were incorporated into its design.

Opinmäki was thus built as a cluster of open spaces partially wall-less and highly flexible. Concrete, wood and brick were the main materials used in its construction. The scope and simplification of the spaces foster an open learning environment and encourage the interaction of people of different ages and cultures.

Amongst the services that are provided we find: a day-care center, a primary school, the Espoo International School with its curriculum in English, a sports facility, an adult education center, as well as a wide variety of cultural activities organized by different institutions, clubs and associations.

Moreover, it hosts the Active Learning Centre (AKKU, acronym in Finnish), which includes the services of a modern library open every day from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm, pioneer in offering self-service book loans, and a Makerspace, where users of all ages can experiment, share and learn new things, ranging from 3-D printing to sewing.

Thus, the classrooms, which in the mornings are used for school children and teenagers in the afternoon are used by the adult education center and different cultural entities and organizations, while the hall, auditorium and restaurant are used for lectures and seminars as well as theatre, dance and musical performances.

This facility, opened in 2015, is doing an important work in the creation of community feeling and the generation of social bonds amongst the inhabitants of this new residential area. It is a place that fosters dialogue, stimulates participation and provides new experiences to people of different ages and cultures.

In addition to being at the heart of the Suurpelto district, this education and cultural center has been consolidated as a reference point for the entire city. Proof of this is the fact that the Active Learning Centre has become in just a few months one of the most used libraries in Espoo.

Presented by: City Council of Espoo, Education and Culture Services
Contact: Ms. Annika Forstén
E-mail: annika.forsten@espoo.fi; opinmaki.info@espoo.fi