Competition plans for the surroundings of St Gellért’s statue on Gellért Hill, 1900 (purchase)
Budapest

The Metropolitan Council of Public Works launched an architectural competition to design the surroundings of the St Gellért statue (including the hillside footpaths) to be placed on the eastern slope of Gellért Hill aligned with the newly constructed Erzsébet Bridge. The bridge, whose construction began in 1897, was much criticized for pointing straight at the hill rather than joining the boulevard encircling the inner city of Buda. The Council’s initiative was probably trying to turn this feature to architectural advantage: once the bridge bumps into the hill, the given part of the hillside could be turned into a monumental eye-catcher, whose lack at the starting point of the major avenues the contemporary press so often denounced, especially in comparison with Vienna or Paris.

The competition had had its precursors in the form of a similar call for proposals published by the Association of Hungarian Engineers and Architects in the previous year, which set the same task to contestants, while the technological department of the Metropolitan Council of Public Works had also prepared the drafts for the same project. All the contestants barring Lajta himself accepted the specifications for the project, designing towers, loggias and gloriettes to frame the statue of the saint all the way down to street level and restraining the greenery to the higher slopes. Lajta’s plan, which survived only indirectly, in descriptions, ’conveyed monumentality without architecture but with trees, grooves, waterfalls in a mystic gloom’, as characterised by a member of his team, later important architect on his own right, Béla Málnai. That is, Lajta intended to place the statue in a natural setting rather than monumental architecture and imagined the greenery to reach all the way down to the foot of the hill. However, his novel solution was bought but not declared a winner – the prize went to contestants representing the original attitude: Mór Kallina and Aladár Árkay’s elegant plan (showing the influence of Otto Wagner) and Ignác Alpár’s clumsy job of a design.

The following year the Council had its own engineers draft up two different plans based on the ones submitted by the contestants: one with the architectural framework and one without. Having to decide between these two, they declared that ’creating a park as the surrounding for the statue is superior to all other potential solutions’. Finally they settled on the plan by János Bakos, which started out from Lajta’s propositions but created a symmetrical arrangement with two flights of stairs embracing the statue that was placed significantly higher in the hillside in a design where ’nature and art are holding hands for increased harmony and beauty’.

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Available material

Other participants' competition entries

01_Építő Ipar, 1900. I. műmelléklet02_Der Architekt, 1899. 61. t.03_Építő Ipar, 1900. 136. p.04_Építő Ipar, 1900. 144. p.05_Építő Ipar, 1900. 145. p06_Építő Ipar, 1900. 150. p.07_Magyar Építészeti Múzeum, ltsz.: 84.014.11

Planning drawings

Építő Ipar, 1901. 131. p.Építő Ipar, 1901. 125. p.BFL_XV_17_d_328_Gellért-hegy

Written sources

BFL II.1.a 137/1900BFL II.1.a 137/1900BFL II.1.a 2175/1900BFL II.1.a 2175/1900BFL II.1.a 2175/1900BFL II.1.a 3193/1900BFL II.1.a 3193/1900BFL II.1.a 3307/1900BFL II.1.a 3307/1900BFL II.1.a 3307/1900BFL II.1.a 3538/1900BFL II.1.a 3538/1900

More images

BFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.aBFL II.1.a

Press material

01_Építő Ipar, 1900. III. 1. 55. p.02_Építő Ipar, 1900. III. 1. 58. p.03_Építő Ipar, 1900. III. 1. 59. p.04_Építő Ipar, 1900. III. 1. 60. p.05_Vállakozók Közlönye, 05_1900. V. 1. 1. p.06_Építő Ipar, 1900. V. 31. 137. p.07_Építő Ipar, 1900. VI. 7. 143. p.08_Építő Ipar, 1900. VI. 7. 144. p.09_Építő Ipar, 1901. VI. 9. 123. p.10_Építő Ipar, 1901. VI. 9. 124. p.11_Építő Ipar, 1901. VI. 16. 129. p.12_Építő Ipar, 1901. VI. 16. 130. p.

Afterlife of the building

BF_XV_19_d_2_b_NZS_0451BFL_XV_19_d_2_b_NZS_0452
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