Our firm was entrusted with the general design of a disused, dilapidated listed building. The property was so out of date that many of the apartments had not been modernised at all in recent decades and, where they had been, this had been done in an uncoordinated way and to varying standards by the tenants. For this reason, the client’s aim, besides renovating the listed part with utmost care, was to develop and extend the property while maintaining its original function as a condominium.
The building, situated in a densely populated inner-city area bound by Lónyay Street, Mátyás Street, Ráday Street and Kinizsi Street, was built in the 19th century. There are no plans dating from when it was first built and neither is its designer known, but it can be assumed that Károly Hild – the brother of József Hild – who drew the plans for the later additions, was the original architect of the building. It was commissioned by the butcher János Leitgeb, who plied his trade at the back of the plot. According to the handed down memories of the residents, a horse stable also stood on the site at the time.
The reason for listing the property is “to preserve the neoclassical part built in 1838 of the 19th-century dwelling house and the unified appearance of the front courtyard and the double courtyard layout.” Accordingly, the historic façade will be authentically restored as regards its form, including the colouring of the frontage, the cornices, the doors and windows, and their surrounding ornamentation. The vaulted spaces of the building towards the street, which are the most valuable from the heritage viewpoint, will house a café, allowing the general public as well as the residents to appreciate the historical merit of the building.
How the building is incorporated into the urban fabric is very exciting, and thus the architectural design of the property was preceded by thorough assessments from several aspects. As contemporary architecture differs in form from the richness of detail represented by the old building, the new building reflects the existing structure with a similarly high level of massing and the arrangement of the apertures.
The part of the building in the rear courtyard is not listed, which means it can be developed in accordance with local regulations while respecting the historic double courtyard layout. The new building façades in the innermost courtyard have a lighter character due to the interconnected balconies of the apartments. These are given a more intimate atmosphere by shading trellises with climbing plants, which, although different in formulation, recur in the façade of the rear courtyard, thereby giving the new wings a coherent appearance.
The original wooden windows will also be restored and, where the former residents replaced them with plastic ones, new windows will be made to match the original ones.
The entrance to the building with a romantic-style, riveted iron strapwork gate will also be renovated. Above the gateway an iron grill, probably made in the 1860s or 1870s, lets light in. This will be restored to its original state.
The client is also seeking to modernise the building to meet present-day architectural requirements. For this reason, after demolishing the existing roof structure, which is of no historic value, the new attic will be enclosed by a modern, insulated pitched slab roof, retaining the original cube of the building. The lighting on both the street and courtyard sides will be ensured by skylights, the axis of which will follow the existing window arrangement.