Log-built daycare centres – sensory-friendly learning environments

Log-built daycare centres are at the core of Pilke’s concept of environments that enable good days to both children and adults.

For its part, Pilke Daycare Centres reforms the field of daycare centre construction in Finland. With our partners, we have already constructed more than 20 log-built daycare centres across the country, and more are on the way. We invest in log-built daycare centres as a response to the growing need for daycare facilities with clean indoor air and buildings with minimal carbon footprint. Our log-built daycare centres enable children to enjoy fresh indoor air, good acoustics and the calm, peaceful atmosphere created by solid wood elements.

Why do we build new daycare centres with logs?

Our goal is to provide children with comprehensively good days at daycare. This involves ensuring the cleanness of indoor air and the high-quality of structures. We wish to provide the children and our staff with pleasant and healthy premises. We respond to these needs by combining modern engineering and architecture with traditional building materials. The breathable walls of our sustainable daycare centres built with non-settling log provide safe, pleasant and hypoallergenic settings for both play and rest.

“By constructing log-built daycare centres, we concretise our idea of providing children with good learning environments now and in the future.”

Both children and adults feel at home in our log-built daycare centres.

As building quality has direct effects on everyday life, there is a strong demand for health-promoting construction in the public sector. On this video, Teemu Rantakangas from Honkarakenne and Pilke Daycare Centres CEO Minna Martikainen discuss log-built daycare centres:

What is it like to work in a log-built daycare centre? On this video, Liisa Arfman, Manager of Pilke’s nature-oriented daycare centre Kanerva, shares her experiences:


What inspired the idea about log-built daycare centres?

On her first visit to a log-built daycare centre, Pilke Daycare Centres CEO Minna Martikainen was so impressed by the atmosphere created by solid wood elements that the idea about Pilke’s own new buildings was immediately conceived.

“Over 20 years of experience in the sector have taught me what a daycare centre lobby smells like on a rainy day. To my surprise, I wasn’t greeted by the familiar, stuffy odour of waterproof dungarees when we entered the log building, but my attention was caught by the lovely scent of log. We walked along the hallway and entered the canteen. There the soundscape was oddly pleasant in comparison to what I was used to. Imagine a daycare centre full of hungry children waiting for lunch. I assure you the volume can be quite something! But here it was so quiet that I thought some of the children were absent. However, this was not the case. Instead, the log elements absorb sound, which was immediately noticeable. In addition to the pleasant acoustics and fresh indoor air, my attention was drawn to the peaceful, cosy atmosphere.

Surely the log elements are elegant to look at, but it was the other sensory perceptions that encouraged me to find out whether Pilke could start constructing log-built daycare centres. Consequently, Pilke’s first log-built daycare centre was opened in the municipality of Aura in August 2017. Since then, we have constructed a dozen more, including the nature-oriented daycare centres Solmu and Kuura in Saarijärvi and Kontiolahti and the music-oriented daycare centre Nuotti in Siilinjärvi, all of which were opened in August 2020. The science-oriented daycare centre Pilke Kaste, which is one of Finland’s first public buildings that aims at carbon neutrality, was opened in Kirkkonummi at the start of 2021.

By constructing log-built daycare centres, we can concretise our idea of providing children with good learning environments now and in the future, even though a daycare centre is much more than just walls.”

Pilke’s partners in constructing log-built daycare centres

Pilke’s partners in log building include Mediset Hoivarakentajat Oy, a company specialised in the turnkey construction of sensory-friendly log buildings particularly for the care sector, and Honkarakenne Ltd which has long experience of log building and related product development.

Non-settling log is Honkarakenne’s innovation that modernises log building. It can easily be combined with other contemporary building materials, and it enables improved air, humidity and sound insulation. Furthermore, building with non-settling log is now faster and more cost-effective than before. Log-built daycare centres constructed by Honkarakenne comply with the Honka Healthy House concept.

Scientifically proven health benefits

Not only do most people find log elements pleasing to the senses, but the health benefits of log structures are also backed up by plenty of research data. Log walls optimise indoor humidity, increasing breathability. Log eliminates mould risks and has anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic characteristics. Read more at the Honkarakenne website: Log is a natural building material (linked text in Finnish). The calming effect of wooden building materials have also inspired an abundance of research. In addition to calming the mind, it has been proven that staying at a log-built house lowers the heart rate (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland). Thus, it is no wonder that naps feel so good at a log-built daycare centre!

Common vision on responsible daycare centre construction

Log building is both a current and a future trend. The modern, healthy and adaptable premises of a log-built day care centre are designed for the building’s users.

How large is a log-built daycare centre’s carbon footprint? How to build a healthy daycare centre that fosters well-being? How do we realise our social responsibility and promote domestic work? Honkarakenne, Mediset and Pilke representatives answer these questions among many others. Download and read our guide!

Pilke’s log-built daycare centres are satisfying to employees and families too

The feedback CEO Minna Martikainen has received on Pilke’s log-built daycare centres has been almost exclusively positive. In her opinion, the new daycare centre buildings have inspired taking a new approach to creating the entire learning environment. “There have been changes to the national core curricula, including those concerning early childhood education. In the new premises, we have been able to take the changes into account and design our space use already during the construction stage,” she explains.

Martikainen says that she has received a lot of general feedback on the daycare centres’ atmosphere. “For example, in the client feedback provided during the first year of our Aura daycare centre’s operation, parents told us that their children fell ill with the flu less often than in their previous daycare centres.”

In addition to client feedback based on experiences and feelings, we find it important to collect research data. For example, we participate in an extensive innovation project with Metropolia University of Applied Sciences students of building services engineering, civil engineering and public health nursing. The project will provide us with data on various fields’ actors’ experiences about our log-built daycare centres,” Martikainen continues.

Jaana Rainio, Manager of two log-built daycare centres, the nature-oriented daycare centres Verso in Jyväskylä and Tähtiniitty in Laukaa, has noticed that many employees have highlighted their wish to work at a log-built daycare centre already when applying for work.

“Early childhood educators value functional premises and clean indoor air. Experiences on air quality have been highly positive at our log-built daycare centres,” Rainio explains.

In addition to fresh indoor air and functional facilities, Pilke personnel have praised the log buildings’ general atmosphere and acoustics. “The log elements contribute to good mood. Wood creates a peaceful and cosy feeling. Sound travels more softly and free of echoes in the log-built premises,” says Elina Kutila, Manager of the Janakkala-based sports-oriented daycare centre Ilveslinna.