Joint development leads to spatial discoveries

The article was first published in the SYK Annual Report of 2021. Tarja Harjula is the Director of Facilities Management at The University of Eastern Finland as of April 1, 2022.

A functionality and synergy review was carried out in 2020 on the Savilahti campus of the Kuopio unit of the University of Eastern Finland. New solutions for modern working and studying spaces were discovered with user-centric joint development. One of the identified solutions was a spacious atrium that enables the construction of versatile spaces for different purposes.
Changes in how spaces are used drive new ideas.

The preliminary phase of the functionality and synergy review of Savilahti campus started in August 2019. At the same time, a review was also carried out regarding the unused laboratory space in the Canthia building. The approximately 1,400 sqm space was left vacant when the laboratory was moved to the Snellmania building two years earlier. The university also started a review on transferring the operations of the Faculty of Health Science to the Canthia and Mediteknia buildings. The largest planned faculty transfer was that of the Faculty of Biomedicine.

The idea of creating a study hub was the result of the facilities review. The current learning centre and the special laboratory below it would be connected by a 200sqm passage. This floors in this spacious atrium would be connected by a vast staircase, and the versatile space could be used for both events and teaching.

There were many phases in the review that could not have been completed on digital platforms, but being physically present in the actual space was essential for the brainstorming needed in this case, says SYK Account Manager Esko Ollikainen.

Focus on inter-faculty synergy

A functionality and synergy review of the Savilahti campus was performed in spring 2020 with the aim of drafting a joint property strategy for SYK and the university. The review was conducted with a joint development approach, which enabled the participation of both staff and students.

The joint development approach included many workshops and pop-up events. We were pleasantly surprised by the staff’s and students’ eagerness to participate, Ollikainen says.

The biggest risk in these kinds of initiatives is the possible failure to make the end-users commit to the joint development process. Therefore, it was great to see the active participation of people on Savilahti campus. It is crucial for participation that the end-users have enough time to engage in the project, says Property Manager Tarja Harjula of the University of Eastern Finland.

The aim of the review is to ensure appropriate future studying environments and working spaces for the university, where the needs of various end-users have been taken into account – regarding both tasks that require concentration and social encounters and networking. The review identified inter-faculty synergy possibilities between people, equipment, and facilities. Modern, comfortable facilities add to the appeal of the campus. At the same time, the spaces are now used more efficiently.

From review to project planning

The functionality and synergy review was completed in June 2020 and presented to the university board of directors. The board was satisfied with the results of the review. The planning of the project was supposed to start in autumn 2020 but the pandemic postponed the initiation of the project for a year.

The pandemic changed our space-using habits and therefore we are now creating a campus where future space needs, the applicability for multi-location work and studying as well as health and safety are taken into account, says Harjula.

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