“Eternal Battle” with Compromises and Constraints: Revitalisation of Medieval Architecture
Keywords:medieval architecture, ruins, conservation, revitalisation, chapel
In the interests of the Catholic Church and German merchants, from the 13th to the 14th century, the territories of the present-day Latvia and Estonia, then called Livonia, were Christianized with the methods of the Crusades and included in the international economic processes. The feudal states of the German Order and bishops were established to keep the lands of the conquered Baltic tribes in obedience. Their main task was to guarantee the security of the west-east trade routes and to develop the economy in their own interests. To protect their borders and roads, the German Order, bishops and their vassals built dozens of fortresses, most of which are now in ruins.
The Dobele Castle is a fortress built in the 14th century for the administration of a larger area, consisting of a small convent-type castle and a large courtyard fortified with protective walls to station troops and deploy weapons. As a result of the Livonian Wars, the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia was established in 1562, and the Dobele Castle became the property of the Duke. In the second half of the 16th century, one of the first Lutheran chapels in the Baltics was built in one wing of the medieval fortress, and the Landtag meetings were held there regularly. At the turn of the 16th-17th centuries, the dukes' residential building was erected adjoining the medieval castle. However, since the 1730s, both the castle and the chapel had been abandoned and, by the 21st century, were in ruins.
Respecting the public desire to change the emotional semantics of the castle ruins in the city centre, and in cooperation with the Dobele municipality, the architect Pēteris Blūms since 2008 has been looking for an optimal solution for the conservation of the ruins and revitalization of the chapel. The intensive construction and conservation stage began in 2018 and concluded in 2021 with the revitalization of the chapel and its adaptation to multifunctional applications. Under the leadership of the experienced architect Pēteris Blūms, many technical and technological solutions were developed for considerate treatment of the historical walls and their visual appearance, as well as for the provision of service and comfort that meets modern requirements.
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