Saturday, March 7, 2015

The School for the Blind. Bela Lajta. Budapest Architecture.


Bela Lajta, an unusually creative architect, built the School for the Blind in Budapest between 1905 and 1908.  It was his first significant building project.  The School was endowed by the wealthy Jewish builder Ignaz Wechselmann and his wife Sophie (nee Neuschloss).  The endowment specified that half the students be Jewish and half other denominations.

While the building itself isn't immediately striking,


it does include many fascinating details and a feeling for how the building might be experienced by visually impaired children.  Most notable is the amazing fence which surrounds it.  The fence is populated by a range of animals, most especially birds, and are placed such that they can be touched by childrens' hands..







There are also places where poems are presented in braille, in both Hungarian and Hebrew.



The decorations on the building (mainly using Transylvanian folk motifs) are incised into the wood, so that they can be felt as well as seen.





The building which, for the most part, is in pretty good shape is now a school for disabled children rather than a boarding school only for the blind.  Half of the fence is well maintained, but the other half is being left to rust and corrode.  One wonders why.






4 comments :

Tracy Altieri said...

My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in education for the visually handicapped. I spent only a few years teaching visually impaired students - mostly I taught general learning disabilities. I have always maintained an interest in my initial field however, and am fascinated with you photos!

Debra Journet said...

I was fascinated too. It is really remarkably imaginative and empathic work. I would love to see the inside. It is such a shame, though, to see half of this fence basically abandoned to decay.

Susan Griffin said...

Did you know about it in advance or did you discover it there?

Debra Journet said...

I knew it a school for the blind and I knew about the Braille in the fence, but I didn't know about all the animals or the engravings in the wood. I was pretty amazed when I saw the whole thing and figured out how it worked.