Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What's Behind the Green Door? The Parisi Udvar, Budapest, and Renovation

In the last blog post, I wrote about the renovation of the Kiraly Bazaar and the degree to which it changed the way the building looked.  Today, I want to describe the Parisi Udvar, one of Budapest's most iconic buildings.  It sits at the entrance to Ferenciak tere, in sight of the Kiraly Bazaar, and, like the Kiraly Bazaar, is also slated for renovation.

The renovation, by Mellow Mood Hotels, is promised to be finished by summer of 2017.  But for those who did not have a chance to see the building before the renovations, here is what is at stake:

The Parisi Udvar was originally known as the Downtown Savings Bank.  Built by Henrik Schmal between 1909 and 1913, the bank sat atop a shopping arcade Parisi Udvar (or Paris Court), the name by which it is now known.  The Parisi Udvar uses the Gothic style mixed with a generally “Moorish style” primarily as a source of intricate ornamentation.  The details of the interior, particularly the shopping arcade, are equally elaborate and striking.  Akos Moravanszky describes it as evoking a “Central European dream of the oriental bazaar rather than rather than any [Gothic] association with the the Middle Ages,”  It is filled with stunning details.

The inside is a shopping arcade with glass domes and mosaics made by the great Miksa Roth.

One hopes for the best.

#Budapest #ParisiUdvar #Renovation

Friday, March 25, 2016

Recovered or Replaced? Repairing Historical Buildings in Budapest.

I recently read that there are approximately 1000 Art Nouveau buildings in Budapest, These buildings are in various states of repair.  Some are beautifully restored.  Others are to one degree or another repaired.  And some are in total states of disrepair. But what constitutes "repair" when dealing with buildings that are privately owned and serve different purposes?

Ferenciak tere, in the historical center of Budapest, is one of the most beautiful squares in the city.  It sits off Kossuth Lajos utca, just before it enters the Freedom Bridge.  Just before the bridge are the famous Klotild Towers (one renovated by Buddha Bar that retains the original outside appearance but not the inside; the other waiting for renovation).  At the entrance to the square are three large buildings, including the famous Parisi Udvar, each facing a corner, with entrace to the square at the fourth corner.  One of the buildings that makes up Ferenciak ter is called the Kiralyi Bazaar--two joined buildings that open to a shopping arcade.

When we were here last year the Kiraly Bazaar looked like this.

It was obviously in need of repair, but nevertheless a distinctive building.  Now it looks like this:

It has not only been repaired but has been painted in various shades of beige/orange.  The problem is not just the colors look odd (was orange and beige truly a 1900 shade of paint?) but that the sculptural details are difficult to discern under the layers of paint.

(Everytime I pass this building I get annoyed.)

Obviously Budapest's buildings need care and attention.  But to paint an otherwise unpainted building and to paint it in such odd colors begs the question of the degree to which this still is the original Kiraly Bazaar.

This questions also arises with the famous Parisi Udvar, which is now covered up while renovation proceeds.  The Mellow Mood Hotel Chain is promising a 2017 re-opening

(Stay tuned to see what's at stake.)


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Frigyes Spiegel's Gardening Women: Ulloi ut 21

 Frigyes Spiegel was one of the earliest Art Nouveau architects in Budapest.  His main contribution was the play of the facade, moving from Historicist references to images of nature.  In this early building (1898) Spiegel arranges a row of women, surrounded by floral imagery, in the process of gardening and harvesting fruit and wheat.  The images flow across the building.  The building is otherwise run-down, but the women on the relief have somehow survived.  Beautiful Budapest.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Who Gets Remembered? Jeno Vida

The question of who is and who is not remembered remains a fraught question in Hungary, a country where the past is both so close and so far away.

Jeno Vida (1872-1945

Budapest is awash with memorial plaques, generally denoting some famous person who lived in a particular house for a specific period of time.  I do not believe I have ever seen a city that has so many memorials.  The image below, for example, is the plaque for a Professor Doctor Adam Gyorgy (1922-2013), a noted psychotherapist and writer who won various professional awards.  Such plaques are very typical.

This is a house built for Jenno Vida by Samuel Revesz and Joseph Kollar in 1914.  Its address is Dozsa Gyorgy ut 102, an important site, right across the street from the grand new Museum of Fine Arts, built for the Millenial Celebrations.  It is the house of an important man.

Vida was a successful, self-made man.  According to Fejerdy Gergely of the Hungarian Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Vida "became one of the most successful, influential and wealthy persons in Hungary by the 1930s, whose possessions were estimated to value 10 million pengos."  His home was filled with paintings by Mihaly Munkacsy, the most admired historical painter in Hungary.  He was one of five Jewish men who were members of the Finance Committee of the Hungarian Upper House.  From the end of the 1930s until the German occupation in 1944, Vida was a trusted advisor to Admiral Victor Horthy, the head of Hungary's goverment.  He was protected by Horthy until arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the camps, where he barely survived, dying shortly after the camp was liberated.

There is no plaque on Vida's house on Dozsa Gyorgy ut.  Similarly, there is no plaque on Vida's house in Buda, a building once occupied by the Nazi official Otto Winkelmann, and now occupied by the Hungarian Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, a place where over 100 conference are held annually.

The Holocaust is rarely mentioned and seldom memorialized in Budapest.  It remains up to the interested reader to discover many of the accomplished Jewish men and women (some of whom remained  loyal to Hungary to the end), who lost their homes and with those homes lost also the memory that they ever lived there.  I found Vida's history by accident, because I was interested in the history of the house.  But the house's history is not just who built it; it is also who lived in it--as noted elsewhere on so many Budapest walls.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Budapest Gates--For Susan


Budapest Stained Glass--For Marilyn


Budapest Pinky Bubble--For Cindy

We were having lunch at Menza, and I wanted something fruity and refreshing to drink.  They had a special that was cranberry juice, voda, champagne, fizzy water, and basil.  I sounded just the thing, and it reminded me of my very good friend Cindy who would have loved it, I think.

It was delicious, but it wasn't til I looked at the menu again that I realized that it was called "Pinky Bubble."  I think they were aiming for something else (Pink Bubbles?)  So Cindy, we are going to have to drink Pinky Bubble at the Lake, like it or not.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Werkele Estate

A few days ago, we took the metro out into the hinterlands of Budapest to visit the Werkele Housing Estate,  This was meant to be a self-contained garden city big enough to hold 20,000 people but still retaining a village-like rural atmosphere.  It was the brain child of Karoly Koss (1883-1977) who came from that part of Transylvania that was then Hungary (now Romania--actually Temesvar or Timisoara where Tony and I did Fulbrights).  Like Lechner, he wanted a "national style," but instead of looking to the far East, he turned to Transylvanian villages, which were, he thought, the closest to what Hungary actually began as.  Medieval gables, peasant designs, folk art: full scale revivial for the middle class,

Now, of course, these houses, with their large gardens, are highly sought after and well beyond the ordinary person's price-range.

They are also much nicer--larger, better kept--than the original village buildings we saw in Romania.  Another utopian vision that escaped its builders' intentions.


Friday, March 11, 2016

The Perfect Art Nouveau House (Or, a cure for feeling discombobulated in Budapest)

We arrived over a week ago, but when we got here we were pretty discombobulated: the product of all the stress of buying a condo, fixing our house, living with workers, trying to pack, plus jet lag and general fatigue.  As a remedy we went on a walk on Varosligeti Fasor, which is a small street where very rich people built summer villas.  This one by Kalman Karossy is one of my favorites.  Indeed, it ticks al the boxes for the perfect Art Nouveau Villa.

It is highly decorated but nonetheless restrained.

It has a peacock, the ultimate Art Nouveau symbol.

It has a beautiful gate.

And Korossy built it for himself, a fact he acknowledges in the top of the facade.

It reminds me of why I love the architecture of this city so much, and how it lives up to repeated views.