Imatra Cultural Centre
Most of the University of Jyväskylä is situated in the old Seminaarinmäki campus area on the slope of Jyväsharju ridge, at the western end of the town centre. The oldest buildings are five brick constructions built in the 1880s for what was then a teachers’ training college (Kiseleff, Lindqvist, Gripenberg) and a sixth building built in 1905 in National Romantic style (Yrjö Blomstedt). In 1951–1957 brick buildings designed by the Alvar Aalto’s office were built in the area for what was then the Institute of Pedagogics. The university library is close to redbrick teacher’s training college buildings on the side facing the town centre.
The middle of the library building has a three-storey high hall with a day-light roof supported on a steel grid. The various parts of the library are arranged around this central hall with the large rooms to the north and the offices to the east. There is a view over Lounaispuisto park to Lake Jyväsjärvi from the 1st floor. The public service areas are on three floors above ground. A café was originally in the 1st floor but larger cafeteria and lunch restaurant have been built later to the ground floor.
The original room arrangement aimed at getting away from the traditional tripartite division of reading rooms, personnel areas and book stacks. Instead, the following grouping was used in the design: information, reading, close-hand stacks, librarian’s rooms and remote stacks. This arrangement aimed at avoiding a division between “reading room books” and “stack books”.
At the time of its completion, the building had the largest amount of scientific reading space in Scandinavia, with 850 places in the reading rooms and the research and group workrooms.
Red brick from the same clay area has been used for the frontage and links the new building with the old 19th century teachers’ training college buildings. Like wise the blue aluminium sheeting used to clad the pillars echoes the blue in the decorated eaves of the 19th century buildings.
The bright colours used in the interiors have a basic effect on the overall impression. The floors are yellow felt carpeting, with the exception of the white mosaic floors in the ground floor entrance halls. The steel profiles used in the doors and for the railings are bright yellow, with bright blue in the draught lobbies. The fittings are white, and the fabrics used are black and white stripe.
The university library is part of the extension of Seminaarinmäki campus in the 1970s, designed by Arto Sipinen and based on a winning entry of an architecture competition. Apart from the library, Sipinen’s campus extension consisted of an administration building and buildings for music and arts. Sipinen was assisted by architect Markku Niemi. Vuokko and Torsten Laakso were in charge of the interior and furniture design. The library expert was senior librarian Eeva-Maija Tammekann.
After refurbishment works designed by Sipinen’s son, Ari Sipinen (Architects Sipinen), in 2021 “The Yellow Library” was re-opened under the new name Lähde, a Finnish word meaning “spring” or “source”. The purpose of the refurbishment project was to align the library to meet the university’s future needs while retaining the distinctive atmosphere in the entrance foyer and the original spatial concept and colour scheme.
The most visible changes include the repurposing of the downstairs book repositories and their spatial amalgamation with the upper levels through the addition of new openings between the floors. The new entrance staircase now draws visitors towards the entrance foyer. Insofar as the column frame allows, large new windows have been added to the facade offering views towards the campus. The end result is a new and updated learning environment, as light-filled as it is approachable, that will help a sense of community to thrive here.
Finnish Architectural Review 1/1975
Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2022 pre-selection jury