Viipuri Library

Luentosalin katto
Kattoikkunat ulkopuolelta

The Building - Restoration - Works Completed - Contact information

Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg (Viipuri Library), which was designed by Alvar Aalto and completed in 1935, is a masterpiece of International Modernism in both European and global terms. At the time of its completion, the town of Viipuri was part of Finland, but was ceded to the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

Alvar Aalto won the design competition for Viipuri Library in 1927 with a proposal that was strongly marked by Nordic Classicism. The original design has been compared to the Stockholm Municipal Library by Gunnar Asplund, which was being completed at that time.

The final decision on the construction of the library was taken in September 1933. By that time, the site had been changed, and Aalto was obliged to make new drawings. Over the course of this time, a distinct change took place in the architect's way of thinking. The location of the library in a park allowed a new kind of freedom in the design work, and the forms of the building were radically simplified. In its final form it represented International Modernism with the utmost refinement. The library was inaugurated in October 1935.

The building did not suffer any major damage during the Second World War, but was completely abandoned for ten years after the war. Most of the damage occurred at this stage. The building was renovated in 1955 – 1961 to house the central municipal library of the Soviet City of Vyborg. The architects of the renovation were Petr Moseyevitch Rozenblum (+ 1957) and after him Aleksandr Mihailovich Shver, who unfortunately did not have access to the original design documents.

Several evaluations, analyses and research of the building have revealed that it is still possible to restore the building to its original form and condition in spite of mistakes in earlier repairs.

In spring 1992 architects from the Alvar Aalto Club and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment took the initiative in starting an international campaign to save the library. Finnish and Russian Committees for the Restoration of Viipuri Library were set up, and a fund-raising campaign was started to cover the costs of the work.

In 1995 Alvar Aalto Library was included to the Russian Federation’s List of Objects of Historical and Cultural Value.

In 1997 The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library was registered as a charitable society. It is the responsible planner and designer of restoration of the Library building. The building still functions as a library called Central City Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg.

Viipuri Library was listed in List of 100 Most Endagered Sites by World Monuments Watch 2000-2001 and 2002-2003. World Monuments Fund awarded in 2004 a Certificate of Exceptional Accomplishment to the restoration of Viipuri Library.

In December 2010 the Russian Government allocated 255.5 million Rubles (c. 6.5. million €) for the completion of the repair and restoration works. The restored library was solemnly opened on 23. November 2013. The restoration was nominated “The Restoration of the Year 2013” by The Art Newspaper Russia. The restoration was awarded The 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Price and Europa Nostra Award 2015.

The Building - Restoration - Works Completed - Contact information

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