Transformation and extension of the house of Marcell Káldor, 1912–1914
Budapest, XIV. Ilka utca 55.

Marcell Káldor, head of the Hungarian office of British typewriter manufacturer Yost had his multi-flat house built on the nearly 1300 square yard building plot in Ilka Street in 1907–1908. The plans were made by a relative of his wife, Zoltán Reiss (later making the plans of the Corvin Department Store in Budapest) and the two-floor building was an average Art Nouveau villa. Its street front was divided into two main parts: a gabled part on the right-hand side displaying a bow-window, and another one on the left made up by terraced recessions on every storey.

Béla Lajta and Marcell Káldor may well have known each other before Lajta started to plan the transformation of the villa: they both held positions at the Club of Erzsébetváros and before the villa was originally constructed, the Káldor family lived in Philip de László’s studio-house in Pálma Street where Lajta did at the time. Klára Káldor and Béla Lajta got married as late as December 1912, but Lajta moved in with the Káldors already in the early summer and submitted planning drawings for the studio that he intended to build as an extension to the villa early in February.

This extension had two levels, a basement and a mezzanine, each with a 82 sq m ’drawing hall’ which had windows along its entire length and an almost 50 sq m adjacent room (labelled ’archive for drawings and documents’ on one of the sheets). The flat roof was intended to be used as a terrace. The grandiose proportions seem to support Lajta’s claim documented by Ferenc Vámos that his team included twenty colleagues before World War 1.

The final versions of the plan dating from October, 1912 show the radical transformation of his future father-in-law’s property as well. Straightening the jagged lines of the rizalit volume on the right-hand-side of the building and filling up the terraced part on the left-hand-side created a building made up of strictly geometric volumes with mostly flat (or seemingly flat) roofs. Lajta replaced the ostentatiously Art Nouveau entry with a small entrance loggia made up from columns with block capitals but without base or plinth. He adorned the corner of the tiny roof terrace above it with the copy of a Greek Kouros statue. He stripped the simple white-washed walls above the pebble-clad base of all ornamentation. As far as it can be reconstructed according the few remaining photos, the side fronts were made up of unadorned wall planes, as per the 1912 elevations. Thus the original house, which reflected a rather common taste for Art Nouveau gave way to a radical building, modern and archaic at the same time, whose severity is softened only by the wide variety of window forms and some sculpted stone details.

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Available material

Planning drawings

01_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_0602_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_0803_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_0904_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_1405_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_1506_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_1707_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_1808_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_1909_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_2010_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_2111_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_22

Detail drawings

Magyar Iparművészet, 1914/3. 111. p.

Period photos

01_Magyar Építőművészet, 1908/9. 3. p.02_Magyar Építőművészet, 1909. 4. p.03_Magyar Építőművészet, 1908/9. 1. p.04_Magyar Építőművészet, 1908/9. 2. p.05_Magyar Építészeti Múzeum, ltsz.: 70.38006_Magyar Építészeti Múzeum, ltsz.: 71.28807_BTM Kiscelli Múzeum Fényképtár, ltsz.: 66.239408_BTM Kiscelli Múzeum Fényképtár, ltsz.: 66.243209_BTM Kiscelli Múzeum Fényképtár, ltsz.: 66.2171

Written sources

BFL_IV_1407_b III_1307_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_1307_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_1307_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_1307_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_1307_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_1307_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_1307_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_1307_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_3894_1912BFL_IV_1407_b III_3894_1912BFL_IV_1476_a_27778_1912BFL_IV_1476_a_27778_1912

More images

BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659BFL_IV_1407_b III_2899_1916

Afterlife of the building

01_BFL_IV_1409_c02_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659_2303_BFL_IV_1409_c04_BFL_XV_17_d_329_32659
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