We were commissioned to plan and build a school for gardeners in Kiipula, Finland. The building is shaped like a big Gerbera flower because they grow Gerberas in the greenhouses belonging to the school. The Gerbera flower looks like a prototype for a flower with a round centre and oval shaped petals. The building’s details and structures are inspired by a fairy tale written by us.

The fairy tale is about an alchemist, Ericus Kipulensis, who builds a genetics laboratory in Kiipula in the 14th century. Inside the building’s winter garden, the centre of the “flower”, you can find “remnants” of the laboratory. The school’s computer class is situated in one of the “ruins”. The alchemist succeeds in creating a big genetically manipulated birch tree, of which three big “leaves” have been found and put in the winter garden. They are placed on different levels in the 8m. high winter garden in the middle of the “flower”. There are chairs and tables on them where the pupils can study or relax.

In the interior you can see many traces of the alchemist from the tale, as well as interior details inspired by the adventures of a bee in search of a Gerbera flower. Under the “petals” of the Gerbera flower you can find the classrooms. Every class has the identity of a certain tree, which also can be seen in the wall paintings. The wall paintings were carried out by Tytti Heikkinen.

Due to our contacts with the Department of Art and Technology at the Chicago Art Institute, we were lucky to get sound artist Shawn Decker to do a sound installation for the winter garden.

He used the sounds of birds, bees, the wind and the rain, which were recorded from around the building by Simo Alitalo. Decker then cleaned and manipulated the sounds on a computer. Four CD players pick out small sequences at random from four CD records filled with different sounds. The ever-changing combinations that are created make the work renew itself continuously, creating a relaxing surrounding for both teachers and students.

A school for gardeners, Kiipula, 1998.