Renovation of the Ybl Palace
Komjáthy Attila, Kremnicsán Ilona, Klinyecz Gitta
Mérték Építészeti Stúdió Kft.
1053 Budapest, Károlyi utca 12.
Budapest Award of Architectural Excellence, Award Recipient, 2001
The palace was originally built for a bank by the plans of Miklós Ybl, and later also expanded by him. It is one of the most elegant pieces of Hungarian architecture from the last third of the 19th century. The house, which was neglected in the 1960s and 1970s and then left to its fate for twenty years, was almost ‘eaten up’ by fungi Serpula lacrymans, so saving it was a huge deed.
It represents a unique act in the history of the city: a two-storey garage was built under the house in such a way that the monument was partly kept. Part of the building’s rear wing was demolished, the remaining part was supported by steel columns and it was dug under, and then the dismantled parts were rebuilt. With this, a pioneering work was carried out in the field of underground garage construction (which is a legal requirement, but also an expedient solution), setting an example for the owners of other downtown properties as well. Wooden doors and windows destroyed by the fungi, as well as the ruined stone and stucco ornaments were replaced from their original materials, to their original shape, including the stolen wrought iron ornament of the lunette above the gate. The Roman mosaic of the doorway and the staircase was restored, the staircase regained its harmonious color palette and gilded painting, and it was completed with a new stained-glass cover. The tower also received new tin roofing. The construction work was characterized by unparalleled technical care, in which the merits of the client stand out. It is important to mention the natural stone paving of the courtyard, the fountain, the wall clock, and last but not least, the extremely light, airy, partially open, glazed cover. Only one criticism can be made: it would have been worth keeping the small shops on the ground floor – although (unfortunately) this was not required by the monument protection. All in all, the undertaking of the architects and the Client was saving, restoring, modernizing and reusing an architectural masterpiece otherwise doomed to destruction, and they managed to perform this task with exemplary success.
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