Mind-Building: The Public Library as the Mirror of Societal Development

A public lecture by Dr. Anni Vartola

On Tuesday 25th September Dr Anni Vartola, Senior Lecturer in Theory of Architecture, Curator Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Architecture, will host a public lecture titled “Mind-Building: The Public Library as the Mirror of Societal Development”. The lecture is a part of the series of public lectures called Tirsdagsrækken.

James Russell Lowell, an American poet, wrote in 1885: “There is no way in which a man can build so secure and lasting a monument for himself as in a public library.” The new Helsinki central library Oodi (ALA Architects), which will open in December 2018, will reflect the political agenda behind the newly revised Finnish Public Libraries Act: the public library should contribute to the promotion of “active citizenship, democracy and freedom of expression.

The Mind-Building lecture tells about the curatorial ideas behind Finland’s Mind-Building exhibition at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale. The exhibition studies the architecture of Finnish public libraries as a case-study of modern monumentality and the ways in which library architecture has addressed societal values in a built form. The lecture will discuss the history of public libraries since the late 19th century via 17 examples from various eras and from various parts of Finland.

Anni Vartola (b. 1965 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Helsinki-based architecture critic and a scholar in postmodern architectural theory. Vartola graduated as an architect in 1994 and finished her doctorate in postmodernism in Finnish architectural discourse in 2014. She works as the senior lecturer in theory of architecture at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture and publishes frequently on professional journals both in Finland and abroad. Her most recent work includes curating the Mind-Building exhibition for the Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Biennale 2018 and acting as the juror of the biennial review of Finnish architecture for the Museum of Finnish Architecture 2018. Her current research interests are the application of critical regionalism in Finnish architecture in the 1980s, the history of Finnish library architecture, and vernacular and traditional motifs in modern Finnish architecture. Besides her work as a teacher and writer, Vartola devotes her spare time to her online architecture bookshop.