New East Digital Archive

Iconic Alvar Aalto library opens after two-year revamp

Iconic Alvar Aalto library opens after two-year revamp

2 December 2013

A Russian library built in the 1930s by world famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto has reopened after a two-year restoration job. The Central City Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg, 130km northwest of St Petersburg, is an iconic example of the late architect’s functionalist architectural style. Built in 1935, it is best known for the wave-shaped ceiling in the auditorium, which Aalto argued improved the acoustics in the space.

The library fell into Soviet hands after Vyborg was taken from Finland in the Second World War before being abandoned for a decade. Following years of campaigning from Aalto’s wife, the restoration process finally got underway in 2010 with 255.5 million roubles (£4.7m) of state funding as well as donations from the Finnish and Swedish governments, The Alvar Aalto Foundation, the Getty Foundation and numerous other charitable organisations.

In addition to the revamp, the library now also stocks a comprehensive selection of books in Russian on Aalto and his work. During the opening ceremony, Sergei Ivanov, chief of staff at the presidential executive office, described Aalto as one of his favourite architects: “I am glad that I can finally see his work not only in the US and in Finland but also in my homeland.”