Cladding softens university campus aesthetic with a touch of nature

Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) in Finland focuses on education, research, innovation and development activities. Its newest campus located in the city centre of Pori caters for 4,200 students. Construction of the campus began in 2014 with 9,000m2 of the 14,000m2 campus being completely redeveloped. The project was finished in spring 2017 and the education facility began its work for the autumn term of 2017, with around 3,000 students and 500 teachers crossing its thresholds daily.

The design of school projects often gets weighted in terms of costs. However, the architects behind SAMK wanted a feature that would also provide a point of contrast to the otherwise grey and white façade. Head architect Matti Asmala of Oy Asmala decided to specify VIVIX by Formica Group panels due to their durable properties and ease of installation, whilst also ensuring the contemporary building had an aesthetic that would fit into its leafy surroundings in a sympathetic fashion.

Asmala searched for an envelope material that would resemble wood as closely as possible to soften the otherwise efficient style of the build, characterised by clean lines and functionality. VIVIX panels in Erable Whisky were applied to the extended window frames. The feature windows are dotted around the exterior of the school at irregular intervals, providing the building with eye-catching detail for passers-by. Some give sanctuary-like breakout spaces for students and university staff to relax in, whilst others provide office spaces with views towards the city centre.

The natural hue of Erable Whisky can also be found on the soffit lining of the stand-out roof element outside the main entrance. In addition, it gives the interior a softening touch, with a narrow strip circling the building just above the first-floor windows. This brings the natural effect of the timber pattern into the dining area.

Specifying VIVIX panels for the SAMK campus turned out to be a simple choice. The local authorities welcomed the use of these panels, as they achieve Fire Retardant Certificate Euroclass B-s1, d0 (EDF grade) in accordance with European regulation EN 13501-1. Another factor for using VIVIX panels was the ease with which they could be modified onsite with minimal mess, for those last-minute alterations, even in the case of a build where the panels were ordered cut to measure.