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The Alvar Aalto Museum’s spring exhibition shows the results of a unique collaborative project. The pupils of Onerva Mäki School in Jyväskylä have now spent two school years working on ideas for a future new school building.

Making the graphic works for the exhibition. Photo: Jorge Raedó.

Making the graphic works for the exhibition. Photo: Jorge Raedó.

The children and young people have their own ideas about what a functional building and an enjoyable learning environment are like. During the process, they have also thought about what features should be taken into account in the design, since the pupils have special needs for support with regard to seeing and hearing. The pupils have been working on this topic under the guidance of professionals from various art disciplines, the outcome being works made in visual art classes and an architectural opera about the new learning environment, Let´s Build the School!.

The exhibition gives us a peek into the schoolchildren’s ideas about the learning environment. The pupils’ wishes for the new school building have been given concrete form in numerous different works. On display are structures, paintings, clay and plaster pieces and graphic works, all made under the guidance of graphic artist Jyrki Markkanen. Also on display are photographs and video footage of the various stages of the work on the architecture opera.

In the exhibition concept images of existing plans made by architect’s offices conduct a dialogue with the pupils’ works. You can test out your tactile sense with the aid of a touchable scale model of the building. You can practise conceptualization by exploring a 3D model of the building. Also built in the exhibition space is part of an area that applies the Oivallus spatial concept, which will be incorporated into the new school, and which includes a variety of surface materials and furniture intended to try out.

During the project, the students have learned, for instance, to sense their environment, to ponder the effect of the built environment on people’s well-being, and to understand what issues affect how enjoyable and functional spaces are. The pupils have also taken a look at their own local architecture, including buildings by the architect Alvar Aalto.

The plot of the architecture opera was devised by the pupils of Onerva Mäki School and set to music by Sanna Ahvenjärvi and Tapio Lappalainen. The opera is being directed by Spanish theatre director Jorge Raedó. Apart from the pupils, also taking part in the opera’s choreography are Jyväskylän tanssiopisto, the Rakennetaan kaupunki! (Let´s build the city!) organization, and students from the Suomalainen musiikkikampus (Finnish Music Campus). In the Opera spoken and signed language are used in parallel. The opera will be performed at Alvar Aalto Museum in April 2014 and a number of third-graders from the Jyväskylä region will form the audience as part of their cultural curriculum.

Onerva Mäki School is part of Oppimis- ja ohjauskeskus Onerva (Onerva Centre for Learning and Consulting), which was set up at the beginning of 2013, when Jyväskylä School for the Visually Impaired and Haukkaranta School merged. The Onerva Centre for Learning and Consulting has expertise particularly in support needs relating to vision, hearing, language and interaction. Further information:

The Rakennetaan kaupunki! (Let´s build the city!) organization has previously produced architecture operas in Helsinki in the 2011-2012 school year and in Seinäjoki in the 2012-2013 school year. Further information:

Further information:
Educational Curator Mirkka Vidgrén, +358 (0)400 254 708,
Head of Learning Markus Linja, +358 (0)295 33 2884,
Head of Learning Tuulia Ikkelä-Koski, +358 (0)295 33 2811,

Alvar Aalto Museum
Open Tues–Sun, 11–18, Maundy Thursday 17.4 at 11–16, Good Friday 18.4 closed
Alvar Aallon katu 7, 40600 Jyväskylä, +358 (0)14 624 7113