Johann Daniel Felsko and Reconstruction of the Small Guild Hall in Riga Cover Image
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Johans Daniels Felsko un Mazās ģildes pārbūve Rīgā
Johann Daniel Felsko and Reconstruction of the Small Guild Hall in Riga

Author(s): Daina Lāce
Subject(s): Essay|Book Review |Scientific Life
Published by: Mākslas vēstures pētījumu atbalsta fonds
Keywords: Johann Daniel Felsko; architecture; Riga Small Guild; neo-gothic

Summary/Abstract: The basic publications on the Riga Small Guild (or St. John's Guild) so far have not considered the different versions of the reconstruction project offered by the architect in the 1860s. However, the history of the Small Guild published in 1902 says that City Architect (Stadt-Architekt) Johann Daniel Felsko (1813-1902) had repeatedly prepared three such projects. The publication is based mostly on 19th century projects: "SammLung diverser Plane und Zeichnungen die St. Johannis Gilde betreffend 1892' (now in the collection of the Riga History and Navigation Museum). An unrealised project, intended to supplement the old building of the artisans' guild with Neo-Gothic decoration, has survived from 1858. Small Guild members wanted more spacious premises and even considered choosing a construction site on Riga's ring of boulevards. In spring 1862, the Small Guild Building Commission invited Stadt-Architekt Johann Daniel Felsko to provide an estimate for a new building on the historical site of the Small Guild Hall. In spring of 1862 Felsko submitted a particularly splendid Neo-Gothic project. It envisaged a monolithic three-storey building with a prolonged, rectangular basic planning. The main entrance portal was placed in the longitudinal facade. Felsko's decorative finish for the second project is much simpler. Window openings in the longitudinal facade are reduced to five but the splendid portal is moved to the side facade. This was connected with changes in spatial planning. According to the second project, the building had three entrances, each corresponding to a certain group of premises. Events took a turn in spring 1864. Felsko was still working on his third project but at the same time he signed agreements with particular groups of craftsmen on the construction works of the Small Guild's new building. The project was approved on 3 March 1864. The third project was realised without significant alterations. Examining the project, one discovers the compromise between the architect's respect for the requirements of the commission and his opponents while retaining his initial conception as far as possible. The decades after the consecration of the building have proved that architect Felsko's initial solution had been farsighted. Unfortunately, the financial situation and opposition's stance stopped its realisation. But the completed building became too small and competitions for its enlargement had to be organised again. Unfortunately 20th century wars wrecked these plans and the guild halls retained their 19th century appearance.

  • Issue Year: 2004
  • Issue No: 03
  • Page Range: 17-28
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Latvian