A Tour of the Alvar Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki – part 2

Episode 8. Part 2 of 2 – I continue my guided tour of the Alvar Aalto centre in Seinäjoki, by visiting Aalto’s theatre (with it’s collection of glass and porcelain by Alvar & Aino Aalto) and the new Apila library next door to Aalto’s original. (Episode 1 can be found here. )

Guest: Marianne Holma, Seinäjoki City Guide

Download an MP3 file of A Tour of the Alvar Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki [part 2]

Show Notes

A Tale of Two Libraries (and a Theatre)

On a slushy, wintery Saturday I arranged to meet Marianne Holma, a former English teacher and now a Guide for the town of Seinäjoki, who agreed to take me on a guided tour of the Alvar Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki. This is the second and concluding part of that conversation.

As episode 1 ended, we left Lakeuden Risti Church and headed across to the Theatre & Apila library. Inside the theatre, Marianne explained some of the architectural features of the building, such as the decorative pillars that also contained plumbing for the building. She also pointed out the fossils trapped in the stone steps of the main staircase.

In the theatre we also found a large display of glasswork designed by the Aalto’s; Alvar’s unusual, asymmetrical Aalto vase and Aino’s popular, distinctive Aino drinking glass. Marianne explained that both are still in production and available from the Finnish glass maker Ittala. In the podcast, you’ll also learn about the ‘Eskimo woman’s leather trousers’!

Our final stop was the new ‘Apila’ library, one of two adjacent libraries in Seinäjoki. You’ll hear Marianne explain why another library was needed in Seinäjoki, and what will become of Aalto’s original library next door, spoiler alert, it will soon be re-born.

The Apila library, so named because it is shaped like a clover, is a thing of beauty. It has an industrial, concrete feel in large, but is also welcoming to all; children are encouraged to play among the books and in the reading ‘cave’ in the children’s section. Adults are able to visit the coffee shop and read the latest editions of newspapers and world magazines. There are also areas from displays of artwork to public-speaking presentations. You’ll hear Marianne also talk about the ‘reading steps’, wide, shallow steps covered in cushions where you can get lost in your book.

In an era when libraries are closing back in the UK, due to a lack of funding, Apila library is something that should be treasured and used by the community, and it really is. Personally, I’m intrigued to see what the refurbished Aalto library will look like – I get the feeling that Evie will find herself in there quite often, you’ll see why at the end of the podcast.

 Finnish words in this Episode

  • Teatteri – Theatre
  • Vastas teatteri – Workshop theatre
  • Kirjasto – Library
  • Apila – Clover
  • Piilomaan pikku aasi – Little Donkey from the Hidden Land



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