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Aalto Library

Aalto Library

The fan shape of the library’s main room is the most striking feature of the building. Light falls through the slatted windows of the room and casts beautiful shapes on the ceiling, walls and shelves. The restored Aalto-designed library was opened in May 2015. The old library was connected to the neighbouring new-build library via a basement floor. The Aalto information desk is located in the Aalto library.

Koulukatu 21

Opening hours:
Monday–Friday 10am–7pm, Saturday 10am–3pm
Summer season (1 June-31 August) Monday–Thursday 10am–7pm, Friday 10am–5pm

Listen more on Library here: https://tarinasoitin.fi/seinajoenaalto/en/library

Aalto-story:
Trip to the City Library

‘Hurry, mum!’ Matti-Alvari shouts excitedly to his mother. Anneli follows the speedy boy at a half run, looking around from time to time to make sure she doesn’t embarrass herself with her running. They are going for the first time to visit the Seinäjoki City Library, which was just recently completed, as was written in the papers.

The library is located to the south of the City Hall. The buildings are separated by a walking area reserved for pedestrians, where a Citizens’ Square connecting the buildings is intended to be built — a ‘piazza’, as Alvar Aalto called it in his design, alive with bustling people. The library forms as it were the southern wall of this square, with the City Hall to the north and Lakeuden Risti to the east.

The library’s northern façade is not as festive as that designed by Alvar Aalto. It is quite simple and serves as a contrast to the monumental City Hall. In order to save money, the construction committee demanded that Aalto remove the cloister from the façade, to which the Academician agreed. Otherwise the general tone of the building is the same as the church on the other side of School Street and westward-extending wing of the City Hall.

Anneli and Matti-Alvari open the door to the library. The door handle has a familiar feel. They step inside timidly and are careful to close the door quietly, since one must respect others in a library. Anneli looks around and reaches for Matti-Alvari, but the boy is already off. (the story continues after the illustration)

‘Mum, there are so many lamps here!’ Matti-Alvari shouts excitedly. Anneli puts her finger to her lips to remind her son how one should behave in a library. Matti-Alvari is a little embarrassed but continues in a whisper: ‘They’re all different, or almost all of them. There are so many in a row. How come we only have one at home?’ In the reading room, Anneli points out a dark blue lamp to Matti-Alvari and asks: ‘What does this remind you of?’ ‘A blueberry!’ Matti-Alvari exclaims – and then remembers how one should behave in a library. Anneli gives a little laugh and states: ‘Right. These lamps were designed just for our library and so they are completely unique.’

In the circulation area there is a recess, where there is a row of, in Matti-Alvari’s opinion, funny-shaped tables in a row – as well as more lamps of different kinds. ‘There’s also a children’s section here’, Anneli exclaims to her son. In the blink of an eye, Matti-Alvari comes out of the recess and runs toward the children’s section, slowing down to a fast walk when a librarian gives him a slightly scolding look.

Light floods in from the gaps in the beautiful grating of the library’s fan-like southern wall, bending from the shape of the vaulted ceiling toward the thousands of books waiting on the shelves. Thanks to the shape of the ceiling, the light bends indirectly, such that customers’ shadows do not fall on the bookshelves. The vaulted concrete building makes Anneli catch her breath.

Originally, the vaulted ceiling was going to be plastered flat, but when the Academician saw the feats of the Ostrobothnian carpenters – the beautifully curving remains of the wooden formwork – he asserted: “No plastering!” Aalto felt that Ostrobothnians had always known how to build boats and ships. The skilfully executed wooden formwork of the ceiling was a prime example of this.

Time rushes on. Anneli has decided to borrow a few classics from the library. Matti-Alvari doesn’t get a chance to glance at the books for loan in his amazement. Outside, Anneli tells her son how the blue tiles of the City Hall across from the library change colour from dark blue to golden brown in different light. Matti-Alvari tries squinting at the wall of the City Hall, but the tiles still look blue as ever to him.

Text: Marjo Kamila and Kari Hernesniemi (Oddmob)
Images: Kari Hernesniemi (Oddmob)

Read the whole story from here.

Aalto inspiroi
Alvar Aalto cities Seinäjoki

Aalto Library

• Alvar Aalto designed 11 libraries in all, of which experts call the Seinäjoki City Library ‘the gem of Aalto libraries’.

• The fan shape of the circulation area is the building’s most original architectural feature.

• Aalto designed a grating for the large windows facing south to bend the intense rays of light. The grating became one of the more beautiful details of the library’s façade.

• Now the Aalto library is connected via an underground walkway to the newer Apila library designed by JKMM Architects.

• The library’s restoration was completed in 2012.

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