Z. Bikše, I. Jekševica, D. Lēvalde, L. Lūse, I. Poriete

Searching for the Historical Identity of Latvian Town – Kuldiga  

Searching for The Historical Identity of Latvian Town – Kuldiga. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Latvia and has kept its original planning. Most buildings within the town centre date back to 17th-19th centuries and feature characteristic low rise design with enormous red tile roofs and picturesque inner yards.

The Architectural Investigation Group (AIG) has developed a way of analysing architecture and landscape of historical town centres. The first such analysis in Latvia was commissioned in 2009 by the Kuldiga Town Council. Three main aims were to be achieved: 1) To develop criteria for determining the authenticity of buildings and environment in Kuldiga; 2) To devise a modifiable portfolio for each building detailing its condition and renovation needs; 3) To analyse different facade colourings and develop basic colouristic guidelines for the historical town centre. All historical buildings regardless of their functions were included in this research project.

People commonly perceive Kuldiga as a baroque town. However our research confirms that it is mainly buildings dating back to 19th century as well as redeveloped older dwellings that shape this authentic environment. The authenticity of every building is determined by several factors such as its size, design, shape of its roof, carpentry and façade colourings. The facade colouring is more often affected by changes than other factors and a full analysis offers an insight into the visual and colouristic changes within the city landscape. It provided us with the opportunity to develop an individual colour scheme for each historical building as well as the town centre in general. As a result we have obtained a colouristic passport that details the most common exterior colouring for various historical periods.

Since this authentic environment is considered one of the hallmarks of Kuldiga, our research has provided the Town Council with a unique opportunity to plan any future developments in accordance with its original values.