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The Finlandia Prize Awarded Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre is a demonstration of environmental consciousness and child-focused philosophy

Originating from the vision of children, the Tuusula-based Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre embodies respect for children and sustainable development.

Since the summer of 2022, this exceptional building has added life to the scenery of the municipality of Tuusula in Southern Finland. The Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre, designed with children’s needs in mind, won the prestigious Finlandia Prize for Architecture for its distinctive architecture and execution.

User-oriented approach and ecological values steered the project

As part of the service network design in 2018, Tuusula resolved to replace several old daycare centres with new buildings. Stemming from a vision of preschoolers, the Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre was established, resulting in a new daycare centre in Tuusula with 10 groups, providing about 200 daycare places for children.

“The idea for the daycare centre was born when we started sketching a vision of the dream playground together with preschool-aged children. Later, the Martta Wendelin Society joined the project. This was natural, as the artist Martta Wendelin, known for her depictions of Finnish rural and home life, spent most of her life right here in Tuusula,” recalls Tiina Simons, Director of Education in Tuusula, about the early stages of the project.

Martta Wendelin’s art is also a prominent part of the daycare’s interior decoration.

“The entire project has been carried out using user-centred design. The history of Tuusula has been brought into the building in a skillful and beautiful manner,” says Pirjo Sirén, Director of Municipal Development.

Significant efforts have been made in the implementation of the Martta Wendelin Daycare to utilise environmentally friendly solutions and climate-smart construction. This can be seen, for example, in the energy efficiency and in the way the principles of the circular economy have been taken into account both during the construction phase and in the planning of the building’s life cycle.

Thanks to its environmental friendliness, the project has been financed with green finance from MuniFin.

“Although the high-quality implementation of the daycare required a significant investment, we expect to achieve savings on the operating budget side. Combining four early education units into one makes the organization of operations more cost-effective and the maintenance of the property easier,” says Markku Vehmas, the acting Chief of Staff of the municipality.

Children and nature come first

The Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre embodies respect for the environment and sustainable development. The building has been constructed with materials that prioritise environmental friendliness and health.

“The structures of the exterior and interior walls as well as the intermediate floors have used CLT massive construction that acts as a carbon sink. The design of the spaces has focused on diversity and flexibility so that they can serve different purposes. The yard designed for play and exercise beautifully opens to the south. Part of the forest has also been left on the yard area to be preserved, as well as a stormwater puddle where children can jump to their heart’s content in rainy weather,” Sirén describes.

“The building has also not been filled with colors or artworks. The wooden surfaces create frames into which the children can bring colors,” Simons continues.

The exceptional nature of the building has brought various recognitions to the municipality. In addition to the Finlandia Prize for Architecture, the daycare centre has also won the 2023 International Award for Wood Architecture, awarded by five European architectural journals.

“I also consider the awards as a tribute to our high-quality early childhood education,” Simons states.

Most importantly, positive feedback has been received from the users of the building.

“We have received particular praise for the brightness and spaciousness of the spaces. Children love being at the daycare and enjoy themselves both indoors and in the yard activities,” Simons rejoices.

Finance for Finland's green transition

MuniFin has offered its customers green finance for sustainable investments since 2016. Funding for green projects is sourced by issuing green bonds. For investors, MuniFin’s green bonds offer a way to finance positive impacts through carefully selected projects in e.g. buildings, transportation and renewable energy categories.

Read more about green bonds

Text: Anne Laiho
Photo: The municipality of Tuusula