Vyborg Library

Vyborg, Russia

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.

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Founded: 1933-1935
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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pavel Bulatov (15 months ago)
Impressive place, especially when you know it was built almost a century ago. Still looks great and modern.
Dmitry Drabkin (16 months ago)
Incredible architecture. A must visit site. You'll need to book an excursion if you want to get in.
Pietro Maciotta (3 years ago)
Designer Building furnished with Aalto's typical style chairs, desks and shelves. The ceiling design is arguably one of the most interesting element, allows plenty of diffused natural light in the ambient. Worth a quick stop to visit.
Тарас Николаевич (3 years ago)
Все очень интересно. Сюда можно сходить даже если ты не сильно любишь читать. Интерьер впечатляющий
Александра Орехова (4 years ago)
Были на экскурсии по библиотеке, которая проводится каждый час, при условии сбора группы от 3-х человек. Виктория, сотрудник краеведческого отдела библиотеки, я могу ошибаться, очень интересно рассказала об истории строительства здания, архитекторе. Провела нас по всем помещениям, в том числе в книгохранилище. Нам очень понравилось, рекомендуем!
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