The Alvar Aalto library in Vyborg
We are glad to report that the library opened after restoration.
Alvar Aalto's famous Library in Vyborg, Russia and the efforts since 1994 to restore it represent exemplars in both architectural history and the history of heritage conservation. Within this extraordinary example of modernist design for the municipal library of the fabled historic Baltic seaport of Vyborg, with its original plans dating from 1927 and built with modifications between 1933-1935, is a catalogue of innovative concepts which reflect master architect Alvar Aalto's most mature and influential work. Unfortunately, however, the vicissitudes of time and circumstance — in particular traumas the town and library suffered during the Second World War — created a situation for the famous architectural landmark from which it has yet to fully recover.
Among the many sound approaches used by the building's rescuers—a consortium consisting of Russian heritage conservation authorities, the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, Alvar Aalto Architects, the Alvar Aalto Foundation, and others — has been the idea of sharing the experience of this remarkable restoration effort through publications, symposia, and other means. This plus the team's commitment to exercising extreme care in the treatment of all details in this dauntingly complex restoration has resulted in the project already becoming a certain lodestar for others to follow.
Even though the Viipuri Library restoration will take several more years to complete it has deservingly become a leading example in the growing subspecialty of conserving 20-th century modernist architecture. The specifics of Alvar Aalto's design concepts and their execution to become the Viipuri Library and the heroic efforts to properly restore the structure are spelled out elsewhere in this and other publications. To date the most critical work has entailed restoration of the building envelope, mechanical systems, and a number of the building's key interior spaces. The intelligent restoration designs include discrete modernizations which should serve the building well in its revived role as Viipuri's primary municipal library. Indeed, the rewards of careful planning and scrupulous attention to detail by the project development team are becoming increasingly evident with every passing year.
In 2000 and 2002 the Viipuri Library was placed on the World Monuments Fund's Watch List of 100 Endangered Places which helped to raise the visibility of the project and funding which was requested at the time to restore the structure's roof and characteristic original multi-skylight system. This work was completed in 2005.
It is no exaggeration to say that the whole of the international architectural conservation world is watching this project, and is learning from it. Within this context the example represented in the Viipuri Library restoration is one among many ongoing efforts to preserve architectural heritage of the recent past.
However, due to all that is at stake here, and the exemplary quality of the restoration, it is an extremely important and influential effort.
We invite you for the tour around the Alvar Aalto library in Vyborg - the unique example of modern architecture. You can order the guided tour around the library by tel: 8 (81378) 24279. E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org