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The Alvar Aalto Foundation considers the total renovation of Seinäjoki Library completed last year to be a great success and an example to other projects. The Alvar Aalto Foundation has proposed the restoration of Alvar Aalto’s Seinäjoki Library (1965) for the Europa Nostra Award.

The new “Apila” (Clover) library building exemplifying successful contemporary architecture and designed by JKMM Architects was completed in 2012. This allowed the Library’s main spaces, which had been made cramped by changes to the original furnishings, to be returned to their original appearance. The renovation was planned by two architects acclaimed for their restorations of modern buildings, Tapani Mustonen and Olli Helasvuo.

The city of Seinäjoki and city architect Jussi Aittoniemi adopted an ambitious approach to the continued renovation of the library complex, with every decision on the restoration of the Aalto Library respecting the original architecture. The building technology was upgraded wherever possible without making major architectural compromises. For example, the mechanical ventilation was improved, but without trying to meet current regulations, which were considered excessive for the present use of the building. The quality and cost of the conservation work on the building components and furniture were managed by separating them off from the main contract – so that the city took responsibility for them. The conservation work culminated in the furniture and lighting for the reading room, which had lain unused in a basement storeroom for decades, being restored and installed in their original locations.

The library restoration successfully combined the city’s active, understanding attitude with the designers’ expertise. At the same time, the total cost of the library renovation was in line with the original budget, €1300 per gross sqm. The city continues to restore the other Aalto buildings in the Civic Centre with the same ambitious goals. Hopefully these proven practices will eventually be applied elsewhere, too.

Architect Jonas Malmberg
Alvar Aalto Foundation
Tel. +358 40 567 5600

Reading Hall of the Library. Photo Jonas Malmberg, Alvar Aalto Foundation.