Kohtla-Järve Gymnasium in Kohtla-Järve, Estonia. Used materials: Terca St. John's ceramic bricks and brick slips, Penter Red Rough clay pavers from Aseri plant (Estonia).
© Heikki Avent / Wienerberger AS

Learning in a triangle

architectum edition #33

Kohtla-Järve Gymnasium in Kohtla-Järve, Estonia. Used materials: Terca St. John's ceramic bricks and brick slips, Penter Red Rough clay pavers from Aseri plant (Estonia).
© Heikki Avent / Wienerberger AS

A high school

in Estonia

Kohtla-Järve Gymnasium in Kohtla-Järve, Estonia. Used materials: Terca St. John's ceramic bricks and brick slips, Penter Red Rough clay pavers from Aseri plant (Estonia).
© Heikki Avent / Wienerberger AS

Products used

Handcrafted facing bricks, pavers in rough red

Learning in a triangle

In the Estonian city of Kohtla-Järve, a newly-constructed urban high school has created an excellent environment for learning and recreation with a nearly zero energy design.

A new urban high school

Kohtla-Järve is a city in north-eastern Estonia, near the Baltic coast. The handcrafted bricks that were used to build the new urban high school came from the Wienerberger factory in Aseri, around 30 kilometres away from the city. The region has a long tradition of using brick – they have been making bricks here since 1922 right up to the present day. 

Modern architecture for tomorrow

In 2017, the city announced an architectural competition to design the new high school in Kohtla-Järve. The winning design, “VINKEL” (Angle), by Estonian architecture firm BOA OÜ, was selected from a total of 14 submissions and featured a two-storey building with a triangular footprint.
 
The central public recreational spaces and flexible options for sub-dividing them were considered to best meet the requirements of the project. “Building a school is like building a house, it’s never just about the building itself. Schools are at the heart of every community and play an important role in the development of the region,” says Gerd Müller, CEO of the construction company Nordecon AS.

“Building a school is like building a house, it’s never just about the building itself.“
Gerd Müller, CEO Nordecon AS

Nearly zero energy building with a green roof

The new building was opened in 2019. The 2,793 m2 site is now occupied by a simple and functional, two-storey building, which can accommodate around 300 pupils. Classrooms, recreational spaces and lecture halls have been arranged in such a way that the various uses complement each other perfectly. A large outdoor space, with areas for play and for sport, serves as the entrance to the modern school building.
 
The visual look of the building is based on the Soviet-style architecture of its surroundings. The façades of most of the residential buildings in the immediate vicinity are built of red brick, and the intention was for the new school building to have a similar appearance. The façade was designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, with louvres built into the façade protecting against strong sunlight. Projections frame the doors and windows, lending visual appeal to the façade. Energy efficiency and choice of materials were critical factors in the technical aspects of planning – the school was to be a nearly zero energy building, meaning it is as energy and cost-efficient as possible. Photovoltaic panels and the vegetation on the roof help in achieving these goals. The vegetation improves insulation, stabilises the indoor climate and improves natural rainwater management. Using bricks manufactured in the region cut costs and reduced supply chain logistics. 

Kohtla-Järve Gymnasium in Kohtla-Järve, Estonia. Used materials: Terca St. John's ceramic bricks and brick slips, Penter Red Rough clay pavers from Aseri plant (Estonia).
© Heikki Avent / Wienerberger AS

Facts & Figures

Project name: Kohtla-Järve High School, Kohtla-Järve, Estonia

Architecture   
BOA Architects (BOA OÜ): Anto Savi, Jürgen Lepper, Margus Soonets, Maiu Uusmaa

Clients   
Republic of Estonia Ministry of Education and Research, Riigi Kinnisvara AS

Year of completion   2019

Products used  Handcrafted St. John’s facing bricks, pavers in rough red

Building type  Public

Published in  architectum #33

Kohtla-Järve Gymnasium in Kohtla-Järve, Estonia. Used materials: Terca St. John's ceramic bricks and brick slips, Penter Red Rough clay pavers from Aseri plant (Estonia).
© Heikki Avent / Wienerberger AS

More inspiration

Interested in our newsletter?

Subscribe now

"Metrodom Panorama"

In the heart of the city surrounded by greenery

Comfortable living

Bulgaria's first e4 brick house