The idea of Opinmäki is to offer a new way to learn and work together in shared facilities. 

Espoo's Opinmäki learning centre wins international award for improving life quality of citizens

The activities of the Opinmäki learning centre in Espoo promote the well-being and community spirit of people of all ages and with different cultural backgrounds. That is why the International Association of Educating Cities has decided to award Opinmäki for its good practices. All together 57 proposals from all around the world participated in the competition, which aims at recognising good practises in improving the quality of life in cities.

Opinmäki is located in the Suurpelto district. The award jury appreciated that the needs of the residents to learn and meet each other have been taken into account in the planning of the residential area. They also found it important that the residents actively participated in designing the learning centre. The openness and flexibility of Opinmäki were described as unique.

“Espoo’s first value is to be resident- and customer-oriented, the city’s best resources are its residents, communities and companies. The active participation of the residents guarantees that the services meet their needs. Opinmäki is an embodiment of these principals,” says Mayor Jukka Mäkelä.

Wide range of educational and cultural services

The idea of Opinmäki is to offer a new way to learn and work together in shared facilities. The services, architecture and operating culture support lifelong learning. The learning environment has been designed to promote the development and well-being of its users as well as the realisation of sustainable development, pluralism, multiculturalism and internationalisation.

Opinmäki includes facilities for an international school, a Finnish-language comprehensive school and early education activities.  The Active Learning Centre (AKKU) is a self-service library that serves the pupils, associations and local residents. In addition to conventional library services, the facilities offer opportunities for many kinds of activities. Opinmäki’s sports hall is the largest in the city, used by schoolchildren as well as several sports clubs. The facilities are also used for Adult Education Centre activities, basic education in arts, the activities of local associations and many other events.

Collaboration and interaction

Opinmäki was designed in close co-operation with its users. The user group consisted of representatives of early education, education, Espoo International School, the Adult Education Centre, City Library, Youth and Sports Services and ICT experts, as well as Espoo Music Institute, Espoo School of Art, Tapiola Choir, the resident association Suurpelto Association and Suurpelto Martha Organization. Apart from representing the users, the members represented a wide range of citizens, such as children, youth and seniors. The user group commented on plans, presented suggestions on shared use of space and equipment and drafted principles for the use of the premises. Also higher education institutions, such as Laurea University of Applied Sciences and Aalto University were involved in the planning.

The activities of Opinmäki are based on interaction and collaboration between actors and with the residents. Flexible facilities, technology and using facilities in a new way enable residents of all ages to meet and interact every day of the week. The facilities and equipment are available to all actors. The joint use and openness of the facilities creates good conditions for a new kind of operational culture, which in turn enhances the efficient use of the facilities.

“Opinmäki is the heart of Suurpelto and has a crucial role in fostering community spirit in the area. Its innovative operations culture radiates to the whole Suurpelto area, enhancing the quality of life and well-being of citizens far beyond the walls of the building”, says Sampo Suihko, Director of Education and Cultural Services.

Opinmäki is the largest multi-purpose hall and school building project in the history of Espoo. It comprises nine separate buildings connected by squares.

The award will be announced at the Educating Cities conference on 4 June 2016, in which participate representatives from the association’s almost 500 member cities around the world.


Further information:

Mr Sampo Suihko, Deputy Mayor, Director of Educational and Cultural Services, +358 50 551 8119,
Ms Kaisu Toivonen, Director of Education, +358 50 511 3398,