Crosses of the Riga Orthodox Christ’s Birth Cathedral were lit up in gold
Skonto Būve celebrates its 20th anniversary
Finishing renovation and painting works in the Riga Castle are taking place
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Crosses of the Riga Orthodox Christ’s Birth Cathedral were lit up in gold

In early September the crosses of the Riga Orthodox Christ’s Birth Cathedral were lit up in gold, thus completing the thirteen-year-long restoration works of the cathedral within the scope of the charity campaign SVET under the supervision of Skonto Būve specialists.

The beginnings of the SVET charity campaign can be found in 2002. The campaign was initiated by Guntis Rāvis and the leading construction company Skonto Būve. Restoration works were performed in several stages.

The initial stage of the campaign was devoted to thorough research work and in 2005 the façade of the church was restored. The unique wall paintings were completed in the interior of the cathedral and also the rear partial wall, which was not painted up to now, was painted in the spirit of Orthodox traditions.

During the next stage in 2001 the 80-square-metre belfry dome was gilded with the highest quality 980-proof gold leaves and the two-metre-high cross was fully made anew and gilded. The gilding process was managed by Gazis Habibuļins – one of the rare old masters of restoration works in Latvia. According to Mr. Habibuļins, the gilding is not only the most beautiful, but also the most sustainable dome covering, which does not rust or oxidise for a long time – it will not need to be restored earlier than in 40–50 years from now.

The largest volume of work – gilding of the central dome of the cathedral – was performed in 2014. Its 400-square-metre-wide surface was coated with 980-proof gold, using 57, 740 golden leaves in the gilding.

The gilding of the three small crosses of the entry and the four dome crosses of the cathedral were commenced in the summer of 2015. Project Manager of the company Skonto Būve Modris Seļakovs says that when commencing the work of the gilding design for the crosses of the cathedral, the Orthodox Church wished to install the traditional crosses without decorations above the cathedral corresponding to the Orthodox trends, but the Latvian State Inspection for Heritage Protection asked to preserve the existing form of the crosses, thus emphasising the value of the authentic crosses in the historical heritage of the building and Riga urban construction.

The gilding of the three small crosses of the entry and four dome crosses of the cathedral was carried out by Laura Ikerte – a gilding specialist certified by the Latvian State Inspection for Heritage Protection under supervision of the old master G. Habibuļins. In addition, 980-proof gold was used for gilding this time.

The restoration works of the cathedral were performed under the supervision of Project Manager of SIA Skonto Būve Modris Seļakovs. The restoration and gilding works of the church were performed thanks to long-term donations of Guntis Rāvis and other entrepreneurs.

Work, resources and knowledge contributed by the company and Guntis Rāvis in person have made it possible for one of the most beautiful and majestic buildings built in the Neo-Byzantine style to be revived in Riga's historical centre.

Skonto Būve celebrates its 20th anniversary

The construction company LLC Skonto Būve has reached its second decade – having been established on 10 March 1995. This important event was marked by a mid-summer splendid celebration with company staff and the closest cooperation partners.

In his ceremonial address Guntis Rāvis, Chairman of the Board of Skonto Būve, thanked staff for a well-spent 20 years of the company’s activities, noting that the company aims to continue for the next 20 years even more successfully. As gratitude for loyalty towards Skonto Būve, a gift draw took place, and the main prize of a KIA car was won by Mārtiņš Gavars, assistant work manager, currently working on the reconstruction and restoration of Riga Palace.

During its 20 years, Skonto Būve has become one of the leading construction companies in Latvia. This is proven by the steadily increasing turnover of the company, as well as responsible work in the largest construction objects throughout Latvia by performing the construction of buildings, engineering constructions, bridges and hydro-technical constructions, as well as restoration and reconstruction, and design.

The largest projects implemented by the company include the Latvian National Library, the Castle of Light, terminal of Airport Riga, infrastructure development on Krievu Island, complex of administrative buildings of the Ministry of Interior, Dienvidu Bridge, tram lines in Liepāja, Bank of Latvia, Riga Thermal Power Station TEC-2, Radisson Blu Elizabete Hotel and Radisson Blu Hotel Latvia, trade centres Galerija Centrs, Mols, Olimpia and Origo, as well as a range of projects throughout Latvia.

To promote art, the environment, sports and city development, the company regularly undertakes charity and sponsoring activities. The most significant of these include support for the Latvian National Ballet and Daugava gallery, renovation of the Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral, the project Return of a Million Trout, as well as investment in the development of Riga Dinamo, VEF basketball club, and the Latvian Gymnastics Federation.

Finishing renovation and painting works in the Riga Castle are taking place

General partnership SBRE, which consists of Skonto Būve and RE&RE, continues the reconstruction and renovation of Riga Castle – the official residence of the President of Latvia. Progress of the interior construction works is obvious – part of the premises have already had their interior finish renovated and the first painting done.

Renovation works in the luxurious premises of the Riga Castle are taking place according to schedule, which foresees the premises at the President’s disposal by November 2015. Wall and ceiling plaster renovation and the decorative ceiling gypsum finish restoration and renovation works are finished and gilding works and assembly of the restored chandeliers and the artificial marble are underway in the White Hall of the castle. Cleaning and colour-fixing of the original decorative painting is finished in the Ambassador Accreditation Hall, and surfaces have been prepared for the first painting.

A huge amount of work is taking place in the Festival Hall as well – plaster renovation is finished, and at the same time both painting of surfaces and renovation of the decorative elements is taking place. Currently, the painting frame restoration and the plastering, painting and assembly of the wooden lining panels, decorative beams and acoustic ribs is underway. In The Hall of Coats of Arms painting works are still underway, as well as restoration of ceiling roses and coats of arms.

Painting works are being continued in the forepart of the castle, and in the premises of the President’s office interior construction works and installation of wooden elements is taking place – installation of window casements, interior windowsills, doors and parquet.

Also, ambitious work has begun in order to ensure that the mouldings on the gateway of the Riga Castle convent are preserved for the next generations. The late gothic mouldings of the Riga Castle, “Madonna with a Child” and “The Master Walter von Plettenberg”, which are artistic monuments of national significance and the oldest medieval sculptural monuments in Latvia, have been taken down and preserved for display, and will be replaced with copies of the mouldings.

The project for preservation and replication of the Riga Castle mouldings is included in the 1st part of the Riga Castle restoration, which will conclude in November 2015.

Video: Elīna Matvejeva