The Cēsis Vidzeme Concert Hall
Renovation (reconstruction). Architect Juris Poga.
The main principles of the architectural conception of the reconstruction of the Cēsis Community House, built more than a hundred years ago (architect Augusts Malvess, 1878–1951), are:
openness and authenticity;
interplay between the old and the new;
unity of place and space;
diversity of utilisation.
We were looking for openness and authenticity both in the structure of the layout of the rooms and methods of construction. The rooms had to be light and the layout – easily navigated. Everywhere we tried to establish a link between the interior and the location as much as possible. We achieved openness in terms of architecture by maximally revealing the constructions and avoiding a covering finish. Everywhere in the new-build part various materials – brickwork, natural stone, wood, concrete, metal – are exposed. As a contrast to that, in the historical parts of the building we chose to retain the construction techniques used a hundred years ago, namely, painted plaster over brick.
We further enriched the interplay of the old and the new by retaining certain decor elements of the former community house and cultural centre, giving them a new lease of life. The wooden shields from the former entrance lobby walls, the chandeliers and ceiling rosettes of the greater auditorium, the metal banister of the old staircase, the lobby pilasters, as well as the only door that has survived since 1914 – all of them can be found and recognised in the complex. We have materialised the second-floor balcony facing Raunas Street that was part of the original project (judging from the available archive materials, the balcony was never built).
The location is defined by Raunas Street with its markedly perimetrical line of buildings. It is the New Town of Cēsis that developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The space of the street is complemented by an alley of trees and a square squeezed between Izstādes Street and the reconstructed building. We wanted to make the new-build parts of the complex reminiscent of trees to incorporate the building harmoniously into the square. The exposed curved brown ground-level brickwork forms the trunks; the glass expanse above it are the crowns, while the yellow sun screens, arranged in a spatially unrestricted manner, are reminiscent of the foliage. We achieved a physical link with location by choosing local building materials, specifically – bricks manufactured in Lode and wood. The columns and roof constructions, window frames and doors, as well as finishing details and furniture are all made from Latvian wood.
Diversity of utilisation was the main objective of the reconstruction of the cultural centre. A single complex houses classrooms of the Alfrēds Kalniņš Cēsis School of Music, rehearsal rooms for amateur musicians, as well as both the administration of the cultural centre and the district’s cultural and tourist board. The lesser auditorium offers visitors an opportunity to watch a film screening in an appropriate setting or enjoy a chamber performance of a theatre production. The organ auditorium has been perfected; the instrument has been painstakingly renovated. The core of the cultural centre is the greater auditorium that can host anything from symphony concerts and theatre performances to conferences and balls. The auditorium is designed to guarantee a quick transformation, adjusting both the acoustics and the layout of the stage and viewers’ seats. The auditorium can feature either an amphitheatre or horizontal parquet flooring without seats.