Held in connection with Finland’s Mind-Building exhibition in Venice and as part of the ‘Meetings on Architecture’ programme, the ‘Freespace of Libraries’ seminar will discuss Finnish libraries. Workshops run by the Helsinki City Library’s librarians at the Aalto Pavilion will offer visitors opportunities to explore the library theme with their own hands.
Finland’s exhibition at this year’s Biennale Architettura is well in line with the theme ‘Freespace’ set by its Curators. The Mind-Building exhibition, produced by Archinfo Finland, for Finland’s Aalto Pavilion highlights Finnish libraries as non-commercial free spaces that are open to everyone.
The library theme will be discussed further at the ‘Freespace of Libraries’ seminar held in Venice, at the Arsenale on 21 November. The seminar is part of the ‘Meetings on Architecture’ programme, during which the Curators of the Biennale Architettura 2018 Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara examine the theme from different perspectives and selected national pavilions have the opportunity to present their interpretations.
The ‘Freespace of Libraries’ seminar will be opened by Director General Riitta Kaivosoja from Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture and moderated by Anni Vartola, curator of the Mind-Building exhibition, and Hanna Harris, commissioner and director of Archinfo Finland.
Among the speakers will be Cultural Director Tuula Haavisto from the City of Helsinki, who has extensive experience of libraries through her previous positions as Director of Libraries in Helsinki and Tampere, and architect Jonas Malmberg from the Alvar Aalto Foundation who will discuss Alvar Aalto’s libraries throughout the decades.
JKMM Architects’ libraries will be presented by interior architect Päivi Meuronen who was in charge of interior design at the Turku and Seinäjoki Main Libraries and the Harald Herlin Learning Centre. All these libraries are showcased at the Mind-Building exhibition. JKMM’s newest library, located in Kirkkonummi, Finland will be completed by the end of next year.
The main feature of the exhibition at the Aalto Pavilion is the new Helsinki Central Library Oodi which will open its doors soon after the closing of the Biennale Architettura 2018, on 5 December. The flagship building of Helsinki – and all of Finland’s library services – will be presented by its designer, architect Antti Nousjoki from ALA Architects.
Located in a prominent position, the new central library strongly symbolises the importance of equal educational opportunities in the Finnish welfare state.
“Oodi’s story about hopes and dreams that have first crystallised into an architectural idea and then into a physical place builds confidence in the future and the civil society’s ability to create something bold and remarkable,” says Nousjoki.
The seminar will end with a presentation of a new book on libraries designed by Alvar Aalto. The authors of Alvar Aalto Libraries, photographer Jari Jetsonen and architect Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen will present the book at the seminar.
Alvar Aalto Libraries is the first publication to compile all 19 libraries designed by Aalto. The oldest library is the Viipuri Library from the 1930s, also showcased at the Mind-Building exhibition, and the newest is the Alajärvi Library, completed in the 1990s after Aalto’s death. In addition to public and academic libraries, the publication also features library spaces in private houses designed by Aalto. Rakennustieto Publishing launches the book in conjunction with the seminar.
During the last week of the Biennale Architettura 2018, the library will also be celebrated at the Finnish Pavilion by showcasing some of the diverse library activities. At the workshops for children and adults, run by Mikko Steen and Lotta Muurinen from the Helsinki City Library, visitors get to explore architecture by building three-dimensional shapes with marshmallows and sticks and by creating poems using words related to architecture, libraries and free spaces. Visitors can also design and make their own badges with a badge machine on loan from the library.
The workshops are open to everyone (admission ticket to the Biennale Architettura 2018 required) and will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 20–22 November between 12 pm and 4 pm.
The 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia opened in May and will end on 25 November 2018.