Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (Academic Bookshop)
Keskuskatu 1 and Pohjoisesplanadi 39
00101 Helsinki

Alvar Aalto 1969

Designed in competition in 1962, though not built until 1966-1969, Aalto's Academic Bookshop provides a bright, attractive but businesslike interior piazza, lit by geometric, almost crystalline glass skylights and surrounded by beautiful, austere white marble. The deep, bright interior is unexpected behind the dark, copper office facade, and successfully creates a place that is more than just a store.

The store is on three floors, but the cutaway for the atrium is generous, and the angular skylights penetrate down into the void emphasising the light they bring down with them. The sharpness and complexity of the skylight geometry contrasts with the simple forms and finishes of the white marble balustrade and staircases.

The whiteness and hardness might seem cold, but do not; filled with books, people and the Café Aalto on the far balcony, the bookstore has a strongly welcoming, human feel.

Simon Glynn 2007

How to visit

The Academic Bookshop is on the corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Keskusatu in central Helsinki: at the west end of Pohjoisesplanadi and the south end of Keskusatu.

As a bookshop, it is open to the public during normal shopping hours, and also offer the Café Aalto within.

The bookshop's web site provides further information in English, or please call +358-9-121 41.


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