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  • An Old New Acquaintance of Ours

    Bécsi Corner 

    Architects: János Plájer, Alfréd Peschka
    Text: Tímea Papp
    Photos: Tamás Bujnovszky

    On my way home I have often looked at the two neighbouring buildings standing uninhabited. The existing school in Lajos Street was built in 1874 and extended within two years with a wing facing Kolosy Square and another turning towards Bécsi Street. Built in the 18th century to function as a brewery, there is a small building with bay windows in the neighbourhood of the one on Bécsi Street – both of them are protected listed buildings now.

    The task set for the designers’ team was a fairly complex one, as they had to preserve protected relics of various historical periods so that the new structures should be built on the site. Owing to its dimensions, the most characteristic development here is the U-shaped two-storey school building made of brick, It has two wings housing the girls’ and boys’ schools respectively with entrances on Bécsi Street and Lajos Street. The staircases are beautiful, one of them could have been preserved in its original function, but it appears now no one intends to use it any more and it shall probably house exhibitions. The other one has been separated level by level, and shall be used as luxury offices, as the whole structure is intended to be function as an office block after the reconstruction of the school building and its extension in Lajos Street.

    As a result of the new function the main entrance has been relocated to the main facade in Szépvölgyi Street, which used to be the entrance for the teaching staff. Entering the building we arrive in an arcaded lounge with the elevators and the water services. On average there shall be four offices o neach floor to rent. Originally they were meant to be used as loft-style offices, but according to experiences the world of unplastered interiors are still regarded as alien from the mainstream in Hungary, this is why the rooms have a palette of pale colours instead. Replacing the former water sevices now there is a so-called „conference tower” stretching into the yard with prepatinated copper facework on its three storeys to be jointly used by its future tenants. As a continuation of the longitudinal axis there is an evocative courtile articulated by green surfaces and partly traversable for public traffic: it was constructed after demolishing the less valuable wings of both listed buildings. A merit of the project worth ultimate appreciation is that it has saved this charming section of Újlak which has almost totally disappeared by now as such, that it has replaced the sculpture of St. Florian belonging to the brewery, and it has exposed and restored the frescoes inside the building.

    The wing in Lajos Street has been extended with a new wing towards the yard and also a new facade so that it should be in line with the new wing where the rhythm of the openings also emphasizes their joint. The new building is adjusted to the height of the old cornice and the original plastered architecture of the school building is transformed in the system of facades on the new structure first into a plastered and then into a mixed-type facade with brick facework. Unfortunately the wooden roofing of the building was hit by a bomb during World War II, and now it is replaced by a steel rafter roof, preserving the geometry of the original. The office for the protection of listed buildings did not license gable-windows except for those on the two perpendicular wings. In the former terraces let in natural light to illuminate the interior.

    The earliest tiny building, the brewery has been restored to its original condition after research into art history and full restoration. Having now its roof with the original 45° inclination the house is topped now with chimneys matching its age. Research has revealed the kitchen with open fire chimneys, the original wooden stairs leading upstairs and also the girders of the ceiling have been preserved intact. Frescos have been found upstairs, actually two different type imitating floral festoons and ashlars respectively. The sculpture of St Florian disappeared from the yard front but is being remade now after authentic photographs. The building had two perpendicular wings which still show on the yard front and in the ornamental paving. These stretched as far as Lajos Street, and this is the reason why the line of the house is slanting at the height of the ground-floor and the first storey, reflecting the contemporary border of the building site. New structures have been built to replace the „tiny houses”: it is not architectural quality, but „cubature” that had been the vehicle of values here.
    According to the utilization study, the brewery shall have a new function – that of catering – and will be extended by an open room in the yard, whilst a restaurant is to occupy a certain part of the ground floor of the school building too. During the development the parking spaces belonging to the block have played an important role, there is one cellar level beneath the school and three beneath the new houses.
    After 5 years’ work the rehabilitation of the block is now completed, and is being taken over by its users. The trees in the Old Bécsi Street are growing new shoots much in the same way as the old buildings are starting life afresh.

    Megrendelő / client: Lajos Projekt Kft.
    Ingatlanfejlesztő  real estate development: Biggeorge’s-NV zRt.
    Tervezés / design: Óbuda Építész Stúdió Kft.
    Vezető tervezők / leading architects: Plájer János, Peschka Alfréd
    Építész tervezők / architects: Geiszter Róbert, Simonics Gábor
    Műemléki konzulens / monument expert: Nándori Klára
    Statika / static: Gecsényi Róbert – Dinám Kft.
    Épületszerkezetek, szigetelés / structure, insulation: Barta Ferenc – Barta és társai Kft.
    Környezetvédelem / environment protection: Weiner László
    Gépészet / installation: Pavlics György – PPR Plan Kft.
    Elektromos tervezés / electrical engineering: Kovács György – Provill Kft.
    Belsőépítészet / interior design: Kéri Balázs – Kroki Kft
    Kerttervezés / garden design: Győri András
    Közlekedés / traffic: Szegő János – Közlekedés Kft.
    Generál kivitelezés / main contractor: Porr Hungária Kft.