Alpar, one of the most famous hungarian architect, as many other hungarian artist, did him artistic studies abroad and, in particular in Germany . Was, in fact, in Berlin where Arpad could keep in touch with many different architectural styles, such as Greco-Roman and ancient Eastern one, rather than neo-Renaissance, until Baroque and the most modern Historicist and Eclectic styles. Were those two styles in particular that characterized the very first works by the hungarian architect. After the beginnings, under architects Imre Steindl and Hauszmann, Alpar did his own projects. The first Alpar’s works were influenced mainly by Historicism and Eclectism.
He said that “the architectural style must certainly let the the spectator feel the beauty and, as a consequence, let him indulge in pleasure; meanwhile the architecture of a building has to be fullfilled of elements regarding the hungarian national history as well as the typical hungarian architectural styles”.
He studied national architectural styles from the middle ages to the late Baroque period because of his interest for the preservation of a sort of national character even in modern architecture. For the same reason, he care about the spatial placement of a building, in order it wasn’t in contrast with the surrounding landscape. Toghether with a particular attention to details (such as the decorations of the windows or doors, for example) that had to be coherent with the general style of a buildings, even the use of the space in architecture, since the project itself, must be in a symbiotic relationship with the environmental context.
This accord between buildings and townscape is, by Alpar point of view, a very challenge, since he never renounced to his unique preference for a monumental design which styled to the very part of his projects.
Amongst his masterpieces, maybe the most well known is the so-called Vajdahunyad castle built for the millenary celebrations in 1896.
Toth Bela, on “A Het” weekly magazine, at the time when the Vajdahunyad castle was build, wrote: “Presenting both gothicus and reinassance architectural elements, with details recalling several other styles, is a real outstanging buildings, a sort stylistic but neither confuse nor a rootless fantasy,but on the contrary it’s an original project not comparable to something else”.
He designed, the Magyar Nemzeti Bank, and together with Zsigmond Quittner (see his project for the Gresham Palace in Roosvelt ter) the Hungarian Commercial Bank of Pest building ( 1905-1911, today serving as palace for Ministry of the Interior on Roosevelt tér).
Other works include the Hungarian General Credit Bank building (built 1909-1913, in József nádor tér , now where is located the Ministry of Finance), the First National Savings Association of Pest corner of Váci utca and Deák Ferenc utca ( 1908-1905, currently headquarter of the Budapest Stock Exchange and Budapest Bank) and the former Stock Exchange Palace on Szabadság tér, too (built 1899-1905, now property of the Hungarian Television).
He designed, in his career, about 124 buildings, with his unique style, so different to those of his contemporary colleagues who worked in Vienna, Paris, Bruxelles, the capital cities of the Art Nouveau, as well as in Budapest.
This is how Alpár himself recalled designing the bank building in a 1917 issue of Magyar Építőművészet:
“As soon as I set about making the first sketches, I realised that, unlike your run-of-the-mill banks, we were dealing here with something that had not been done before – there had never been a building designed expressly for the purpose of banking. For almost without exception, central banks were located in old buildings converted for the purpose. For this reason, they were, at best, architecturally suited for conducting certain kinds of banking business; but there was no building which systematically provided for the handling of every kind of banking transaction. It was clear to me that, on the whole, central bank buildings abroad (in Vienna, Paris, London, etc.) could not serve me as models, and for that reason, and lest I be misled by unsatisfactory interiors as I developed own design, I made no attempts to go abroad and study before I made the first sketches. I followed the principle that had always guided me, namely, that an architect was able to design a building for a special function only if he was thoroughly familiar with the business that was to be conducted therein. Construction started in the spring of 1902 and was completed three years later in the spring of 1905. As compared to the projected cost of 3 million, the building ended up costing 4.5 million crowns.” – from the Magyar Nemzeti Bank web site, http://www.mnb.hu
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