They call it “Wood City.” On Helsinki’s Jätkäsaari peninsula, a new 34,000-square-metre building (by architects Anttinen Oiva) epitomizes Finland’s embrace of contemporary timber design. Inside, the headquarters of a mobile game developer are paired with a surprising — yet entirely appropriate — counterpart: the New Nordic School by the Sea kindergarten.
Designed by acclaimed local interiors specialists Fyra — a firm known for workplace environments, hospitality and retail spaces, as well as mixed-use developments — the 300-square-metre school is a light-filled, energetic environment that encourages play and creativity. Completed in 2021, the space is designed to foster independence and exploration while maintaining a safe and comfortable ambiance.
A soothing residential ambiance defines the open central room, with a kitchen and dining area at the heart of the shared space. Framed be warm wood tones that stretch across the walls and ceilings (as well as much of the furniture) the kindergarten is punctuated by bright bursts of colour.
Bold green and yellow notes energize the communal space, with a central pillar wrapped with a vivid green bench. Around the corner, a quieter nap area provides respite from an active day. More muted hues span the floor and the bathroom, where elegant green floor and wall tiles create a sophisticated monochrome palette.
Throughout, the interiors are finished with natural, non-allergenic and hard-wearing materials, chosen with child safety — and durability — in mind. Meanwhile, hanging light fixtures and decor elements invite little ones to look up and take in the space around them.
Situated near the Baltic Sea, Fyra’s design also draws on its nautical surroundings for inspiration. To balance privacy with openness — and a sense of whimsy — a wave-motif decal dresses the kindergarten’s generous street-level windows, while playful ocean-themed artwork accents the interiors.
While Fyra has crafted a space carefully tailored to the needs of children, the simple, blonde wood design language remains sophisticated and well-considered. In Helsinki, even kindergarteners are poised to appreciate the merits of Scandinavian style.
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