Central office and apartment block of the Bank of Budapest-Erzsébetváros, 1911–1912
Budapest, VII. Rákóczi út 18.

It was in 1907 that the bank bought the three-floor corner house built in 1873 next to its offices at 20 Rákóczi Street. In the spring of 1911 they launched an architectural competition for the plans of a new building to be constructed in its place that would combine the functions of a central office and apartments for rent. From the twenty contestants it was the plan by Béla Lajta that was declared the winner. The president and CEO of the bank at the time, also a prominent figure on the political arena of the district, Gusztáv G. Ehrlich was in close connection with Lajta, because he was the chairman of the construction committee for the Chevra Kadisha Charity Home as well. Construction work began in the autumn of 1911 and was finished by the end of 1912, in accordance with the modified plans dating from that year. The expenses ran to 1.8 million crowns. The plans exceeded the cubic content limit at several points, but the project, carried out under the auspices of such a prominent municipal politician, was always given the thumbs-up.

In terms of their floor plans the three versions of the plans are hardly different from one another: the two lower floors are occupied by the bank offices, topped by four housing floors and a mansard floor for service and maintenance functions. The banking hall is covered with a glazed roof ten meters above the ground. The upper floors all share the same floor plan: each one is divided into two five-room and a three-room flat with all rooms overlooking the street.

The elevations, on the other hand, underwent major transformations in the process: ornamentation became less overflowing and more sophisticated, the prominence of the corner and the plasticity of the building was gradually reduced. On the business levels the richly ornamented pillars were replaced with 10-meter high fluted column-shafts – in the final version this monumental solution was only applied on the Rákóczi Street front. The vertical division of the residential levels was changed into horizontal only in the last version of the elevations: the windows along the central axes of the main front are arranged into swathes by cornices with folk art inspired terracotta panels between them. The recessed upper floor (which stresses the horizontality of the main front) that Lajta used instead of the more widespread mansard roof has a similar terracotta panelling with more stylised motifs. The two unadorned side fronts received a simple brick cladding.

The financial situation of the bank became shaky by early 1913, so they were forced to rent out the brand new offices. As a result, the space originally intended to be the banking hall was divided by a gallery as early as 1914-15, when the Antal & Hosszú Fashion Company rented this part of the building. The building as a whole, however, became the prototype for the undetached metropolitan building with a mixed commercial and tenement function, whose design and outward appearance served as a model even 25 years later, when another house in the same block was being planned.

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Available material

Drawings of the competition entry

01_A Ház, 1911/5. 207. p.02_A Ház, 1911/5. 207. p.03_A Ház, 1911/5. 205. p.04_A Ház, 1911/5. 206. p.05_A Ház, 1911/5. 207. p.

Planning drawings

01_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_102_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_203_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_304_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_405_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_506_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_607_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_708_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_809_Magyar Építészeti Múzeum, ltsz.: 78.04.610_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_9110_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_10111_XV_17_d_329_34533_24

More images

12_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1113_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1214_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1315_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1416_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1517_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1618_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1719_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1820_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_1921_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_2022_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_2123_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_2224_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533_23

Period photos

01_BTM Kiscelli Múzeum Fényképtár, ltsz.: 66.213302_BTM Kiscelli Múzeum Fényképtár, ltsz.: 66.243103_Vámos Ferenc: Lajta Béla. Budapest, 1970.04_Ars Una, 1924/8-9. 313. p.05_Kulturális Örökségvédelmi Hivatal, Fotótár, ng. ltsz: 113.74906_Forgó Pál: Új építészet. Budapest, 1928. 149. p.07_BFL_XV_17_e_30608_BFL_XV_17_e_30609_BFL_XV_17_e_30610_BFL_XV_17_e_30611_BFL_XV_17_e_306

Written sources

01_BFL_IV_1407_b III_5396_191102_BFL_IV_1407_b III_5396_191103_BFL_IV_1407_b III_5396_191104_BFL_IV_1407_b III_5396_191105_BFL_IV_1407_b III_5396_191106_BFL_IV_1407_b III_5396_191107_BFL_IV_1407_b III_7834_191208_BFL_IV_1407_b III_7834_191209_BFL_IV_1407_b III_7834_191210_BFL_IV_1407_b III_7834_191211_BFL_VII_2_e Cg 821_112_BFL_VII_2_e Cg 821_1

More images

13_BFL_VII_2_e Cg 821_114_BFL_VII_2_e Cg 821_1

Press material

01_Vállalkozók Lapja, 1911. V. 10. 13. p.02_Vállalkozók Lapja, 1912. VI. 5. 13. p.03_A Lakás, 1912. 9-10. sz. 20. p.04_A Lakás, 1912. 11-12. sz. 15. p.05_A Lakás, 1912. 11-12. sz. 15. p.

Afterlife of the building

001_BFL_IV_1407_b II_1857_1914002_BFL_IV_1407_b II_1857_1914003_BFL_IV_1407_b  II_1857_1914004_BFL_IV_1407_b_II_1857_1914005_BFL_IV_1407_b_II_1857_1914006_BFL_IV_1407_b_II_1857_1914007_BFL_IV_1407_b_II_1857_1914008_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34533009_BFL_XV_17_d_329_3453302_BFL_XV_17_e_30603_BFL_XV_17_e_306040_BTM Kiscelli Múzeum Fényképtár, ltsz.: 77.683/3

More images

041_Kulturális Örökségvédelmi Hivatal, Fotótár, ng. ltsz: 15.899045_Kő és Műkő Architektúra, 1926. 3. sz. 9. p.050_hu_bfl_xv_17_d_329_00010051_hu_bfl_xv_17_d_329_00011052_Fővárosi Gázművek Zrt. Gázmúzeum, ltsz.: n 146406_Fővárosi Gázművek Zrt. Gázmúzeum, ltsz.: n 146508_Fővárosi Gázművek Zrt. Gázmúzeum, ltsz.: n 031209_Fővárosi Gázművek Zrt. Gázmúzeum, ltsz.: n 0317-193130_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_000131_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_000232_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_000333_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_000434_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_0005351_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18352_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18353_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18354_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18355_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18356_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18357_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18358_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18359_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1835_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_000636_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_000737_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_0008385_BFL_XV_17_e_306386_BFL_XV_17_e_30638_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1839_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_000940_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_001141_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18_0010421_BFL_XV_17_e_306422_BFL_XV_17_e_30642_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1843_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1853_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1854_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1855_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1856_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1857_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1858_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1859_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1860_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1861_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1862_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1863_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1864_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_1865_BFL_XV_17_e_306_VII_Rakoczi_ut_18

Documentation of the present state of the building

001_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010002_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010003_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010004_Barka Gábor felvétele, 2010005_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010006_Barka Gábor felvétele, 2010007_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010008_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010009_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011010_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011011_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011012a_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010

More images

013_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011014_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011015_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011016_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011017_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011018_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011019_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011020_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011021_Barka Gábor felvétele, 2010022_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010023_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010024_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010025_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010026_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010027a_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011027b_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011028_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011029_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010030_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010031_Csáki Tamás felvétele, 2010032_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011033a_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011033b_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011034_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011035_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011036_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011037_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011038_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011040_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011041_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011042_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011043_Bartha Levente felvétele, 2011
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