Restoration of Viipuri Library
Viipuri Library is Alvar Aalto’s early masterpiece from the 1930s. It was partly damaged during the Second World War and suffered neglect during the Soviet era. The project to restore the original features of Aalto’s architecture began 20 years ago, initially on a scant budget of international donations. It was completed with funding from the Russian government. The building’s poor state of repair necessitated extensive technical upgrades. The original layout was basically unchanged, but the details and materials had been altered over the years. With the help of Aalto’s original plans, the team was able to restore many of the original structures, materials and details. Some of the alterations made during the Soviet era were also preserved. Technical upgrades were undertaken with special care not to alter the visual identity. The team explored various approaches through on-site experimentation. The dilapidated backdrop of the city accentuates the evergreen modernity of the again-resplendent Viipuri Library. Its story is a page-turner with a happy end; the building will continue serving the townspeople as their communal library.