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  • Zalotay 80 – Close and Far Paralels

    Enquiries on Architectural Phenomenology

    Text: Sándor Sólymos

    Szputnyikmegfigyelő-állomás, Szombathely, 1968, 1973

    Elemér Zalotay was born on 30th of October, 1932 in Szentes. He graduated from the Budapest Technical University in 1957. In 1962 he presented his concept of the ribbon house in the periodical titled Interbuild in the article Corb plus. Inspired by Le Courbisier’s idea of the „integrated dwelling units”, this design went beyond the French prototype: it followed the principle of the „megastructures” quite fashionable then, and projected a vast collective dwelling house for some 80,000 tenants to be constructed in Óbuda on the bank of the River Danube. Zalotay tried to prove both the economic and structural reality of the design as well as its powers to create a community. The concept itself had been the focus of debates on more than one occasion both to professional and unprofessional audience. It has also been the subject of a film. (As a part of the series titled Tough People by András Kovács.) The „regime” finally opted for the Soviet prefab houses referring to the need to satisfy the „massive demand for flats”. Zalotay came up against walls in every direction, and his activities became impossible… Tough People is the title of a part of a film by András Kovács: Zalotay’s concept of the szalagház was meant to be an episode in it, but it turned out to be carrying more weight than that. Thus it was made into an independent film titled Today or Tomorrow, which happened to be prohibited on the day of its debut. The political system backed down because of the work of the architect and the film director. No ribbon house has ever been built in waterfront Óbuda, but it winds along both banks of the River Danube so that new generations could have a point of reference for themselves.