Saving an Alvar Aalto Treasure

By Rappaport, Nina | Scandinavian Review, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Saving an Alvar Aalto Treasure


Rappaport, Nina, Scandinavian Review


International efforts are underway to preserve the

great Finnish architects deteriorating library in Viborg, Russia. Built in 1935, the building has survived

World War II and a half century of neglect.

CONSIDERED A HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT BUILDING in the history of 20th-century architecture, Aalto's Viipuri Library is situated in a town park about 60 miles from St. Petersburg. Soon after its completion in 1935, it began to suffer the ravages of war; indeed, many once though it had been totally destroyed in the conflict. Because of a lack of funds the library was never properly restored. It is both an example of demolition by neglect but also a neglect that left many original elements still extant.

Aalto, one of the past century's greatest architects, received the commission to design the Viipuri town library through a competition in 1927, but a change in site and program delayed the project. In his final design five years later, Aalto completely transformed the building concept from his initial idea for Nordic classical design with a series of abstracted arches (more similar to Gunnar Asplund's work) to a building with a strong modernist vocabulary. This transition maintained a serenity and tactility with subtle juxtapositions of materials and forms exemplifying Aalto's humanist modernism and a relationship to an organicism.

It should be noted that when the library was built, the town was in Finnish territory and named Viipuri. When much of southeastern Finland was lost to Russia as war reparations, the town assumed its historical Swedish name of Viborg.

The white stucco-faced building is composed of two rectangular volumes that appear to slip past each other in a modernist composition echoing the various functions of public and private spaces in the building. The main hall, bathed in natural sunlight from the huge window-wall, leads into the stair tower. The auditorium, featuring an undulating wooden ceiling composed of a slatted-wood surface that turns into the end wall, is a unique formal expression and acoustic achievement modulating the rectilinear structure. As historian Sigfried Gideon wrote about the auditorium in 1962, "Here, therefore, scientific reasoning and artistic imagination have merged to free architecture from that rigidity which is today an ever-present menace. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Saving an Alvar Aalto Treasure
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.