My absolutely favorite bookstore in Helsinki is the Academic Bookstore for three very different reasons:
- It has a great collection of books – also in many different languages.
- In the second floor there is a nice café, called (of course) Cafe Aalto, with table service. The owners are Italians, so the coffee is ok. In the cafe I have spent many Saturday afternoons with my grandmother and other family members, so many that I have learned to recognize all the regular customers.
- The whole building and the interiors are designed by Alvar Aalto, our own Mr. Funk.
Alvar Aalto (3.2.1898–11.5.1976) is still today the best known Finnish architect, and Academic Bookstore is one of his few buildings in Helsinki that one can easily and freely visit (even though there are all together 13 buildings designed by Aalto in Helsinki). By the entrance already the doorhandle reveals the designer. The building represents Aalto’s mature style from 1960’s that was characterized by the use of marble and geometric grids. I love the atrium where natural light filters in, the books stand on the original shelves and one can read a book sitting on a chair by Aalto. By the way, happy birthday Alvar!