Helsinki FI

Type Invited project competition, 1st prize 2020
Team MER Architects, Talli Architects and Ramboll
Role Responsible for urban space and landscape
Client City of Helsinki
Size 3,000 m2
Project start 2020
Status Ongoing


The new Keski-Pasila neighbourhood school is an important cornerstone in the transformation of the Pasila railway area into a dense urban neighbourhood. With high-quality, warm-toned and tactile materials we create a gentle, dignified and timeless atmosphere that will set the tone for future projects.


“Aurinkokello” or “Sundial” in English is the name of our winning proposal. The building and rooftop schoolyards are organized like a sundial, to utilize the sunlight indoor as well as outdoor on the compact plot. The school will serve more than 1000 children from kindergarten to primary school and form the heart of the new neighbourhood.

 A cornerstone in the transformation of the Pasila railway area

Keski-Pasila is a former railway area north of Helsinki. The area is being developed from railway wasteland into a dense residential area for around 3,000 new inhabitants. Great attention has been made on creating a timeless design, well integrated with the surroundings and with quality materials. The Keski-Pasila school set the tone for a future project and the atmosphere of the Keski-Pasila residential area.


A compact building program and a site located next to the Halkopiipunkallio rock at the end of the Höyrypark axis created a set of interesting challenges that our project was developed from.

The main one being lack of space. The solution became to divide the schoolyard into three levels with most of the outdoor areas being on the roofs, carefully designed to be a clear continuum of the indoor functions.


The school will be well-integrated with the surrounding cityscape.
Seen from the park, the lush green edges of the second-floor schoolyard frame the building and visually connects it with the park. From the street side the exterior staircases, open ground floors facades and clear entrances create a welcoming and easily accessible school.

A multi-layered play and learning hub

With limited space divided between three levels, it’s crucial to think versatility and multifunctionality into the spaces. To make the most out of the limited space, the pupils of different ages are not tied to a specific area but can take advantage of a larger variety of spaces and activities. All square meters are utilised and many elements have more than one purpose and function both as play areas and learning spaces. The parkour structure can be used as a gymnastic stand, the play area transforms into a

performance stage, and the atrium stairs allow for gatherings. Both building and schoolyard are arranged to take advantage of the sunlight throughout the day as the outdoor areas should be an urban meeting point for the locals outside of school hours. The lush planting divides and connects the different spaces and ensures pleasant microclimate protected from the wind. Variation and diversity in the planting improve the biodiversity value and educational value of the schoolyards.