Perspective rendering of the synagogue dated 8 February 1928. The characteristically dynamic form of Behrens’s perspective views was strongly influenced by Hans Döllgast, who worked for Behrens from 1922 to 1928, and it is likely that the perspective renderings for Behrens’s competition entry are his work as well.

Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, C 48 /1/EZ VIII/25

Behrens under the Surface. Restoration Survey of the Neolog Synagogue in Žilina

In the entire architectural history of Slovakia, itis possible to find only a few works by architects of such international reputation as Peter Behrens. His Neolog Synagogue in Žilina is viewed by historians, preservationists and even the public at large primarily through the prism of the architect’s personal fame. Nonetheless, the present synagogue is not only the work of a single genius: for the over 80 years of its existence the structural core of Behrens’s synagogue has been over-layered and transformed by several rebuildings and changes of function. At present, a further layer is being added through yet another conversion of the synagogue, in this case for its new function as a ‘Kunsthalle’. Behind this project are Marek Adamov, Fedor Blaščák and Martin Jančok, who since 2011 have been preparing and directing the restoration and conversion of the building. As such, the current project of the “new synagogue” could be understood as a continuation of the development of this unique structure, by means of the layering or replacement of new functions and values upon the basic platform of the original synagogue constructed from the plans of Peter Behrens. NEW DISCOVERIES The planned conversion of this landmark necessitated a deeper investigation of its structure, which architectural historians and restorers previously had no possibility of undertaking. This research, which lasted for the past two years, uncovered a range of new insights into the architecture and history of the synagogue, even though until March 2013 the researchers had to work only with fragmentary scraps of project documentation and historical photographs – up until the discovery of the original project documentation in the Museum of the Arts in Olomouc and the acquisition of several never-published blueprints of details from the Pfalzgalerie in Kaiserslautern. Assistance in the new discovery of Behrens’s project documentation was, paradoxically, provided by information uncovered from investigation of a much earlier phase of the building’s development, above all the finding of the first project for rebuilding the synagogue, from the important inter-war Czech architect Lubomír Šlapeta, provided thanks to his son, Professor Vladimír Šlapeta….

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