Rapid renewal of the campuses of the University of Eastern Finland

2018 was a year of changes at the Kuopio and Joensuu campuses. The personnel of the university’s facility services were kept busy particularly by the teacher training department relocating from Savonlinna to Joensuu.

It has been a breathless year for Tarja Harjula, Head of Facilities Management at the University of Eastern Finland.

Harjula and her team are responsible for the University of Eastern Finland’s facilities in Kuopio and Joensuu. The duties of Harjula and her 45 subordinates include tasks related to construction, maintenance, facilities management and user services as well as attendant and equipment maintenance services.

“We’ve been working on some big things with long-term significance,” Harjula says.
In 2018, the focus was on the Joensuu campus, with teacher training functions moved there from Savonlinna in the summer.

The move was especially challenging because it involved the transfer of teaching operations in crafts, arts, music, home economics and physical education from Savonlinna to Joensuu. This meant that there was a need for more special-purpose facilities in Joensuu.

“It was quite a puzzle we had to put together! We mostly made do with the existing facilities, but it took a number of moves into and out of temporary premises to get textile crafts teaching into Taitola, home economics teaching into Natura and music and arts teaching into Educa,” Tarja Harjula explains.

Making the most of corridors and restaurants

The relocation operations were also used as an opportunity for new development.

Lobbies, corridors and restaurants were repurposed for use in self-directed learning and group work. The Canthia restaurant and Snellar café were redesigned in Kuopio. The students are happy to work on exercises and group assignments in the new-look spaces. The goal of making diverse use of space has been achieved, but now there is a need for more space for self-directed learning.

“One significant step was the opening of around-the-clock facilities for self-directed learning in the library at the Joensuu campus,” Tarja Harjula points out.
Both campuses also saw the introduction of an entirely new concept for teaching premises known as the multi-location classroom. It is a “hall of mirrors” where a video feed covers one full wall, giving videoconference participants the sense of sharing the same space.

Working environments have also been enhanced. The university’s adult education unit Aducate began the design and construction of a state-of-the-art multi-space work environment, while in Kuopio, work began on converting the administrative corridor into a flexible multi-space office.

The university’s staff and students have the opportunity to exercise influence in change projects. The cooperation is seamless.

“We have a lot of smart students,” Harjula says.

Campuses are becoming increasingly diverse

Together with SYK, the University of Eastern Finland has developed its campuses to make them increasingly diverse.

For example, student housing is planned for the Savilahti campus in Kuopio, and the Tulliportinkatu residential building for students has already reached rooftop height at the Joensuu campus. With the number of parking places set to be reduced due to zoning changes, the needs of pedestrians and cyclists were taken into consideration even better than before by improving bicycle parking, among other things.

Parking has been a hot topic in general with the introduction of parking fees on campuses last year.

Harjula has been pleased to see that the university’s facilities have attracted interest not only in Finland but also internationally. Michael Hynes, Superintendent of Schools for the State of New York, visited the Joensuu Teacher Training School in the autumn and was particularly impressed by the premises in the Educa building.

“Students and teachers have also been full of praise for the functionality, equipment and acoustics of these premises,” Tarja Harjula adds.

TEXT: Marjo Kanerva