The restoration work on the Alvar Aalto-designed library in Vyborg (Viipuri), Russia, has now been completed. The comprehensive restoration of this key work of modern architecture, which has taken more than twenty years, was begun in 1991. During the last three years, the work has been speeded up by financial assistance given by Russia to help finish the repairs. The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library has planned, directed and monitored the work from the start. The Alvar Aalto Foundation has collaborated closely with the Committee. The Library will be ceremonially opened this Saturday, 23 November.
“The history of the competition and design for Viipuri Library is crucially linked with Alvar Aalto’s changeover from classicism to functionalism. The ideas developed for the Viipuri Library competition remained central to the work of Aalto’s office throughout its existence. The Foundation has supported the work of the Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library in numerous ways, and Studio Aalto in Tiilimäki in Helsinki has served as the association’s home,” says Director of the Alvar Aalto Foundation and Museum Tommi Lindh.
The Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg, completed in 1935, was one of the buildings that brought Aalto worldwide fame. After the war, it fell into disrepair and, at the start of the 1990s, the city of Vyborg asked Aalto’s architect’s office for help with planning the repair work. With support from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment the architect Elissa Aalto set up a restoration working group, which developed into the current restoration association. The renovation, which initially progressed slowly for financial reasons, was given a boost in December 2010 by funds from the Russian government.
The goal of this restoration project that spanned national borders was to re-instate the building’s original architectonic value. The Library’s lending department, lecture hall and reading rooms have been returned to their original splendour. The technical systems have also been updated to meet current standards.
“Viipuri Library can be considered an exemplary repair project and an interesting learning process. A St Petersburg building firm specializing in restoring valuable properties was responsible for the renovation work on the Library. The collaboration with them has gone very well and the restoration work has been done with attention to the smallest detail,” says Secretary General of the Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library Maija Kairamo.
In summer 2014, Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg will be prominently on display at the Alvar Aalto Museum. An exhibition is currently in production that will take an in-depth look at the Library from the viewpoint of renovation work and building preservation.
Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg website:
Director Tommi Lindh, firstname.lastname@example.org, +358 44 562 1625, Alvar Aalto Foundation & Museum
Secretary General Maija Kairamo, email@example.com, Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library