Interior design Reetta Lukka
Helsinki, Finland, 2016

Martela designed two classrooms for the English School in Helsinki to make it easier to carry out phenomenon-based learning in these spaces.

“The new learning environment provides much better support for project work and progressive inquiry than the old way of learning at a desk. It also encourages pupils to think about which methods of learning suit them,” says class teacher Mikko Kontto.

The English School’s new learning environment can easily be adapted to suit the method of learning in use at any given time.

In no time at all you can go from individual work to group work and back again.

The space and furniture have been designed to support adaptability, which means that the entire solution is functional. “Furniture that is easy to move was chosen for the English School. For example, Martela’s Salmiakki tables can be easily moved without loud noise,” says Martela interior designer Reetta Lukka.

Comprehensive wellbeing for pupils

Comprehensive wellbeing was also considered in the learning environment, and materials that improve acoustics, such as felt wallpaper, were used in the interior design solutions. “Teachers feel good when fifty lively children are able to concentrate and learn how to learn,” says Kontto.

In the new learning environment, different areas are arranged for different ways of working. “Every learner is different. Some find it easier to learn around a group of tables, while others like to read in their own space on a sofa, for example,” says Kontto.

Furniture solutions can be used to make pupils feel more comfortable and safe. “A space can be made more inviting with soft cushions and a round stool. Pupils can work on the floor on these cushions, or hug them in their lap for a feeling of security,” says Lukka.

Pupils at the English School also have tables, sofas, armchairs, standing-height tables, leaning chairs and the Beatbox seating stand, which means they can change positions throughout the day. According to Lukka, sitting in the same position all day is not good for anyone’s health and wellbeing, and this is something that must not be forgotten.

Pupils wanted natural colours

The pupils were given the opportunity to comment on Martela’s preliminary plans. A fresh Scandinavian look and natural colours were emphasised in the final interior design solution.

“The pupils were excited about getting the chance to participate in the planning. This has also had an impact on dedication in the learning environment,” says Kontto.

A happy learner is a better learner.

The interior designer was also impressed with the positive atmosphere at the school.
“I was delighted by how much the teachers valued the pupils' opinions. After all, the spaces are meant for both teachers and pupils,” says Lukka.