The Vyborg Municipal Library was built during the time of Finnish sovereignty between 1933-1935, before the Finnish city of Viipuri was anexed by the former USSR and its Finnish name was changed to Vyborg by the USSR political authorities. Aalto received the commission to design the library after winning first prize (with his proposal titled 'WWW') in an architectural competition for the building held in 1927. Aalto's design went through a profound transformation from the original architectural competition proposal designed in the Nordic Classicism style (owing much to Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, especially his Stockholm City Library) to the severely functionalist building, completed eight years later in a purist modernist style.
The building is an internationally acclaimed design by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and one of the major examples of 1920s functionalist architectural design. It is considered one of the first manifestations of 'regional modernism'. It is particularly famous for its wave-shaped ceiling in the auditorium, the shape of which, Aalto argued, was based on acoustic studies. On the completion the library was known as Viipuri Library, but after the Second World War and Soviet anexion, the library was renamed the Nadezhda Krupskaya Municipal Library. Nowadays, integrated in the Russian Federation city of Vyborg, the library is known as The Central City Alvar Aalto Library.
The building had been damaged during World War II, and plans by the new Soviet authorities to repair it were proposed but never carried out. The building then remained empty for a decade, causing even more damage, including the destruction of the wave-shaped auditorium ceiling. During the 1950s schemes were drawn up for its restoration — including a version in the Stalinist classical style typical of the time — by architect Aleksandr Shver.
Until the coming to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, few people from Finland, let alone other Western countries, visited Vyborg, and there were many different accounts in Western architectural texts about the condition of the library, including erroneous reports of its complete destruction. The building is now included in the Russian Federation's list of objects of historical and cultural heritage.
In 1998, to mark the 100th anniversary of Aalto's birth, a 2×10-metre section of the auditorium ceiling was reconstructed, but it was taken down in 2008 to enable the reconstruction of the ceiling proper. In 2010 the State of Russia funded six million euros to restoration of the library. It was completed in October 2013 and the new opening will be held in 2014.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.