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A proposal has been made to the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment to place a conservation order on the Alvar Aalto-designed Academic Bookstore’s Book Palace. In the Alvar Aalto Foundation’s proposal this architecturally and culturally valuable department-store building completed in 1969 would be protected under the Act on the Protection of Buildings. Statutory conservation would protect the authentic appearance of the Book Palace’s interiors more fully than the current town plan, during the planned alteration work on the Academic Bookstore.

“Only the statutory protection made possible by more detailed preservation orders can ensure that no irreversible changes are made to the original appearance and presentation of the store’s central spaces to suit short-term concept designs. More detailed preservation orders can also be used as a guide to changing the inappropriate solutions that have been made over the years, and use good design in a way that best fits the original appearance,” says the Alvar Aalto Museum’s Chief Architect Tuula Pöyhiä.

Alvar Aalto’s architecture is known all over the world, and Aalto can be considered one of the architects that have made Finland an international role model for high-quality modern design and building. The Academic Bookstore, along with many other buildings, is one of Aalto’s best-known works, and is an important showcase for Aalto’s architecture.

“The Academic Bookstore in the heart of Helsinki plays a significant role as a unique, integrated work of art, and as one of Helsinki’s most accessible Aalto-architecture sites for both the Finnish and foreign public. The purpose of the conservation proposal is not to oppose the remodelling due to be carried out in the near future, but rather to protect the building,” says the Director of the Alvar Aalto Museum Susanna Pettersson.

The Alvar Aalto Foundation sees the Academic Bookstore’s Book Palace as complying with the criteria for a protected building laid down in the Act on the Protection of Buildings. According to the Act, a building can be protected, for instance, for its rareness and uniqueness, or for features that typically evoke a particular time period.

The Stockmann department store’s planned renovation of the Academic Bookstore is intended to begin next year, 2013. The next step is for the City of Helsinki, the National Board of Antiquities, and Stockmann to respond to the conservation proposal. The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment can, if necessary, place a conservation order on the Academic Bookstore while the round of responses is under way.

Further information:

Director Susanna Pettersson,, tel. +358 40 7360 699,
Alvar Aalto Foundation/ Alvar Aalto Museum

Chief Architect Tuula Pöyhiä,, tel. +358 50 378 5385,
Alvar Aalto Museum