Merenoja Comprehensive School - Kalajoki (Finland)

A school at the heart of the community

A large school and sports complex that is also used as a public building by the residents of Kalajoki was built with a focus on sustainable values and materials
Elisa Montalti
Laura Sorri, Lukkaroinen Architects
YIT Suomi Oy
Year of completion

The Merenoja comprehensive school extends over an area of approximately 13,200 square metres and includes schools, kindergartens, administrative premises, an auditorium, a canteen and student welfare facilities. Located in the centre of Kalajoki in Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland, it provides an inclusive learning environment for children from primary through to high school ages. The school building and interior were designed by Lukkaroinen Architects in compliance with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel scheme, which sets criteria for the ecological values of the design such as the amount of daylight entering the interiors, overall energy consumption, and the ethics and sustainability of the building materials.
The main architectural concept was to divide the school building into smaller units or modules so as to improve internal distribution and allow the children to be taught in smaller groups. The size of each module is inspired by a «traditional village school» concept with the aim of creating a friendly and easily controllable environment, an aspect that is particularly important for younger children and those with special needs.
The exterior of the building unifies the various modules while providing separate entrances dominated by warm wood panels and bright, welcoming autumn colours such as red, yellow and orange. The main entrance to the complex is via a large triple-height foyer which also reflects the building’s function as a community space for Kalajoki residents, with facilities open to the entire population (auditorium, sports hall, workshops and classrooms for a range of activities). This foyer is the heart of the building and also serves as a plaza and recreational meeting place surrounded by the individual «village schools».
The interior design was inspired by the natural environment, the local heritage and neighbourhood design, with a choice of soft, tactile and bright materials in warm, friendly colours. Each space has its own character and specific features. The stone-effect ceramic tiled floor serves as a distinctive element in the connecting staircases, classrooms and laboratories for older pupils. The two Cerdisa collections PuntoZero and Landstone were chosen for these spaces in a 60×60 cm square size and colours Grey and Cenere. The subtle veined effect is particularly evident on the horizontal tiled carpet, where the variety of tones and reflections is enhanced by the abundant natural light.
As architect Laura Sorri from Finnish practice Lukkaroinen Architects explains: «Ceramic tiles were used predominantly in the public areas and high-traffic spaces. We chose a compact and durable stone-look material with outstanding environmental qualities, opting for neutral tones to establish a dialogue with the other materials used in the project.»

Cerdisa, Landstone e Puntozero
porcelain stoneware
60x60, battiscopa 7x60
Grey and Cenere
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): B MIN
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 175 min3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 1300 N ( ≥ 7,5 mm) ≥ 700 N ( < 7,5 mm) ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9, R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
Certifications and awards
ISO 14001
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