Roihuvuori elementary school 1967

The Roihuvuori primary school by Aarno Ruusuvuori was completed at the height of Ruusuvuori’s most productive phase and as one of his key works. The main objective was to accommodate the school on a challenging plot in a compact yet flexible building.

The overarching theme of the school building comes from the central hall formed by the gym and the dining room, with the classrooms and other spaces grouped around it. The concrete frame allowed the building to be realized without massive load-bearing internal or external walls. It also made it possible for the classrooms to open up to the surrounding landscape via large windows and glass-brick walls.

The colour design for the school’s interior was realized together with the visual artist Anitra Lucander (1918–2000). The city of Helsinki also commissioned her to create an artwork for the school’s lobby. Over nine metres wide, the textile work comprises around 70 different fabrics of different ages. The materials are attached with glue or are sewn. The stiches have been left visible and the edges left intentionally unfinished.

The Roihuvuori elementary school is an absolute milestone of educational architecture of its time. Ruusuvuori’s clearly systematic, pared down and finely detailed design, is a crystallization of the typical architectural features of the times. These include the growing use of concrete and flexibility as a core value in construction.

Image: Anitra Lucander: Appliqués, for the lunch room of Roihuvuori school, 1967 © Photo: HAM / Hanna Kukorelli