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Building a school for tomorrow

School design that takes all areas of life into consideration

When experts from different backgrounds come together and make a detailed plan, you will create a school that brings all key services for children and youth under the same roof. Once you address the needs of different user groups in all areas from planning to purchasing furniture, your school can work as a service center for the whole area.

Finland 100


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100






Target group
March 2017
The life cycle operation model of Nummikeskus makes it a community centre for all inhabitants of the area and promotes active life for people of all ages.

About the innovation

What is it all about?

School is not separate from the surrounding society, they both react and intertwine with each other. The life cycle model sees the education of children and youth as a continuous journey from baby to adult. Education is at its best when the same adults work with the child throughout their childhood. The lifespan model is therefore a great way to plan a building: all the key services needed during childhood and adolescence are brought under the same roof.

The lifespan model brings together different parties to plan the building. This allows the needs of different groups to be met comprehensively all the way from the drawing board to the finishing touches, such as the purchasing of furniture.

For example, participation from school personnel allows you to take pedagogical practices into consideration from the early stages of planning. Close communication can be established between the designers, builders and end-users, once everyone is aware of the great number of people involved in decision-making.

The lifespan service model also emphasises durability in material choices and other purchases. Therefore, the choices made will be sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Another special feature of this innovation is the competitive dialogue model, which means that the competitive bidding is a dialogue between the potential service providers and the client. The basis for bidding is the operational plan made by end-users that describes the building’s purpose in detail.

Open dialogue is encouraged throughout the bidding process, so that both the client and the possible service providers can build trust and learn more about the purpose of the building.

The City of Hämeenlinna has embraced the life cycle model into its child welfare and youth services since 2009. Examples of this include putting kindergartens and schools in the same building, inviting youth workers into schools, and building maternity and child health care services in conjunction with kindergartens.

The following steps describe the five different phases of lifespan oriented planning: the preliminary stage; creating a shared vision and strategy; the implementation; the initiation and feedback; and, finally, operating the building. These steps form a modern, functional and dialogue-based model for building a school.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


The core of this innovation is thinking about the entire lifespan and development of a person from infant to adult.


This model helps you plan a school with better services and for longer use, while taking into consideration different phases and parts of a child’s life.


This model can be easily be adapted to fit all kinds of services in any area, however the process requires significant resources.


Implementation steps

Preliminary phase
During the preliminary phase, the client maps out the demand for services in the area and launches an operational plan.

The client here means the party that is commissioning the school, such as a municipality or a foundation.

To map out service demand, the client can collaborate with comprehensive schools, maternity and child health care services, school health services, student welfare, youth services, physical activity services, local libraries, land use planning, transportation planning, early childhood education, services for the elderly or third sector organizations.

During this phase in Hämeenlinna’s Nummi, the client discovered there was demand for a preschool, a lower secondary school, a maternity and child health care services, a library and different kinds of third sector activities as well as culture, sports and youth services in addition to the primary school that was already planned

During the preliminary phase, the client launches an operational plan. The plan will show how the building works, how the space will be used, how many users there will be, and which parties will work in the building.

Making an operational plan requires close collaboration and dialogue between different parties. The participants for creating the operational plan for Nummikeskus included a team of teachers, the school nurse, a youth worker, employees of the library, representatives from services working with the elderly, as well as students.

How do you make an operational plan?

√ The plan is based on the purpose of the building. When designing a school, a key part is played by the employees of the future school and experts specializing in pedagogy.

√ Make sure that all school personnel have the skills required to plan 21st century learning activities and learning narratives, i.e. how students will learn at school. The learning narratives prepared by the school personnel will help plan the different spaces and design a pedagogically sustainable operational plan.

√ Invite school personnel to participate in the planning as early as possible and make sure they feel welcome to participate during the process.

√ Keep all participants in the loop. Invest in communication and keeping people up to date – there can never be enough.

√ Create a framework for communicating information and discussion. Concrete solutions can be a shared project room and a production planning system like Last Planner, that was used for the Nummi service center.

√ Leave space for brainstorming. Be prepared to learn from other parties.

√ Keep in mind that needs can change over time.

Creating a shared vision and strategy
In the second phase of the project, the client gathers a team consisting of different parties.

The team will consider different ways for how to set up rooms and spaces in the building and how they can be utilized as efficiently and productively as possible to reach the project’s objectives. The team will also help focus the operational plan drafted during the preliminary phase.

It is advisable to pay attention to future requirements already at this juncture. For example the committee behind Nummikeskus considered the goals of the new curriculum, social and health care policy and especially future end-users.

What information is required before starting the project?

√ An operational plan and learning narratives

√ Goals for scope (also minimum total area of the building)

√ Current zoning policy (current city or land code, and the restrictions set by it.)

√ Statements from the rescue department and other local officials you need to take into account

√ Goals for construction: building maintenance, air conditioning, emissions etc.

√ Clearly defined bid specifications, such as a description of used materials.

This phase includes the competitive bidding carried out as a negotiation process, hiring the building contractor and agreement negotiations.

The end-users’ operational requirements, building technology and building maintenance are integrated into the project.

The planning and implementation of the project are the service provider’s responsibility. The client continues to work with the steering group responsible for coordinating the implementation of the operational plan and the user representatives participating in planning meetings.

What should be considered during competitive bidding negotiations?

√ Schedule the bidding and implementation process with enough spare time.

√ Give the service providers enough information: hold presentations, invest in background materials.

√ Give feedback on the contents of the bids.

√ Describe your goals in the operational plan, but leave space for the service providers to use their strengths. Do not define the contents or form of bids too rigidly.

√ Leave room for improvement: develop your operational plan based on the good ideas that come up in the bids.

√ Use experts: you can use consults during the bidding process.

√ Create an atmosphere of trust and prove your trustworthiness when you receive confidential information.

√ Plan the basic targets beforehand (e.g. energy efficiency requirements, the amount of use, cleanliness, transfer conditions) and discuss these during the competitive negotiations.

Training and feedback
The client will provide key support during this phase. The client will provide training and initiation for users during the building process.

At Nummikeskus, the client’s goal was for the building to work as one unit. Therefore the client worked closely with the steering group responsible for coordinating the different functions.

The service provider on the other hand is responsible for training the end-users on the technical functions of the building. The designers also provide support and gather feedback.

Building operations and initiation
The service provider is responsible for the building’s technical management: maintaining the building, the building technology and the grounds for the next twenty years including any renovations that are required.

Services also include cleaning, waste management, and maintaining access control and safety systems.

During this time, the user can enjoy a functional, safe and healthy environment. The client and users will work together to develop how the building is used.

The client is, however, responsible for planning the building activities in detail and engaging users to follow the building rules. The clients will use the operational plan created during the preliminary phase as their guideline.

The Nummikeskus building is managed by its own building manager and caretaker. Users can contact the HelpDesk or the control room around the clock via phone or email.

The client and users receive information of events at the building or, for example, energy and water consumption via the Customer info report portal on the internet with the user IDs. Announcements and other information can also be shown on the building info screens.

The keys for success

√ A full, analytic survey of your starting point and user requirements.

√ The client supplies the service providers and designers with enough information.

√ Collaboration, communication, and a sensible timetable ensure quality planning.

√ Full trust between different parties. The client and service provider should have a shared vision.

√ The users and other interested parties should be actively engaged, trained and initiated in the functions and opportunities of the building.

√ Managing potential changes in the demands for the space and environment as the plan evolves.

√ Meeting user expectations and building trust.

√ Training users to use the space properly once finished, so that they can be used to their full potential.

√ Maintaining the property, using the space according to the agreement, as well as encouraging open communication between the service provider and the client.

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