Apartment Block of the Harsányi Brothers, 1911
Budapest, VIII. Népszínház utca 19.

It was in late January 1911 that Ferenc and Adolf Harsányi and their respective wives paid 227.000 crowns to buy the narrow building plot at the corner of Népszínház and Víg Streets – the former was being filled with large apartment blocks at the time. Having previously ordered from him some smaller jobs – the wind stopper of Café New York and the tombstone of their mother – the two brothers now commissioned the plans of their new five-floor apartment block at their brother-in-law, Béla Lajta. After completion, the house became home not only to the Harsányi family, but to several members of the Leitersdorfer-Lajta and the Káldor families as well as to the architect and designer Lajos Kozma.

All but one of the surviving plans reflect the first version of the planning drawings, as of January 1911. This shows a U-shaped floor plan with the eastern side of the lot remaining open, in order to provide light for the rooms and staircase overlooking the courtyard. The Víg Street elevations indicate that a cinema is to occupy the ground floor, while on the floor plan there’s no sign of a movie theatre. The elevations show strong likeness to the first versions of the drawings for the Lajta family’s apartment block and those for the Bank of Budapest-Erzsébetváros. The stone-clad swathes of oriel windows and the rounded and richly ornamented corner can be considered the precedents of the competition entry for the Bank’s central office. The main motif of the Népszínház Street building’s volumetric composition, the rounded corner flanked by two higher and horizontally terminated swathes of oriel-windows, already appears on this early version of the drawings.

Another floor plan, dated July, 1911, shows the current internal arrangement of the building. The stairwell, light-flooded due to its iron-glass front wall – with some coloured insets from the renowned stained glass workshop of Miksa Róth – is depicted where it was finally placed: on the inside of the wing on Víg Street. Most of the rooms came to overlook the street, with the kitchens, bathrooms and servants’ quarters overlooking the courtyard. The corner is occupied by a larger, five-room flat.

Finally the ornamentation was reduced to the small panels flanking the oriel windows of the main front – with motifs inspired by Hungarian and Slovak folk embroidery patterns – and the metallic cladding of the ground floor walls with its reliefs of vines and heart-shaped leaves. As a result, the dynamism of the wing on Népszínház Street is more ostensible, which is partly due to the powerful contrasting motif of the horizontal balconies – framed by white cornices – creating deep indents in the rounded corner volume.

(The author is indebted to Hajnalka Kocsis’s pertaining study)

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Available material

Planning drawings

01_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34818 (lappang)02_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34818 (lappang)03_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34818 (lappang)04_BTM Kiscelli Múzeum Építészeti Gyűjtemény, ltsz.: 2003.105_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34818 (lappang)06_BFL_XV_17_d_329_34818 (lappang)

Detail drawings

Magángyűjtemény

Period photos

01_Művészet, 1913/8. 288. p.02_Magyar Iparművészet, 1914/3. 142. p.03_BTM Kiscelli Múzeum Fotótár, ltsz.: 66.2430.204_Bruno Taut: Die neue Baukunst in Europa und Amerika. Stuttgart, 1929.05_Forgó Pál: Új építészet. Budapest, 1928. 148. p.06_Forgó Pál: Új építészet. Budapest, 1928. 149. p.

Written sources

BFL_IV_1407_b III_281_1911BFL_IV_1407_b III_281_1911BFL_IV_1407_b III_281_1911BFL_IV_1407_b III_281_1911BFL_IV_1407_b III_281_1911BFL_IV_1407_b III_281_1911BFL_IV_1407_b III_281_1911BFL_IV_1407_b III_281_1911

Afterlife of the building

FORTEPAN_12793

Documentation of the present state of the building

010203040506070809101118

More images

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