Well, this time the scecesszio.com web site can provide a very special article. Thanks (but many ..) to my collegue Zita and to the kindly staff of the Foldtani Intézet I had access to the inner rooms of one of the most famous building of the hungarian szecesszio: the masterpiece building of Lechner which hosts the Hungarian Geological Society.

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Eventually, a book was even donated to me: I published an excerpt in which the art critic Nemes Marta describes the bullding by an architectonic point of view. Enjoy the article and the photos as weel BY CLICKING ON THE FOLLOWING LINK !


Valuation

For Lechner the building of the Geologi­cal Insitute was the final step before reaching the peak of his architectural development in creating a characteristically “Hungarian style”. The formulation he achieved with this building is an organic part of the development between the Museum of Ap­plied Arts and the peak: the Postal Savings Bank. The revelation of these connections was only possible through the careful and detailed research on the history of the above mentioned buildings.

If we could put the three buildings next to each other as we can with their photo­graphs, it will be obvious even to the non-expert that the Geological Institute and Museum forms the transition between the lavishly ornated vivacious mass of the Museum of Applied Arts and the clear simplicity of the Postal Savings Bank. Not only the decoration, but also the articula­tion of its forms is simpler than that of the Museum of Appied Arts, which fulfills the function of a museum and is more accen­tuated than that on the Postal Savings

Bank which houses offices. The appear­ance is also justified by its function: the building on Stefania-Street operates both as a museum and as an office building.

This fact is perfectly conveyed by the di­vision of the exterior masses and the spa­tial composition of the interior, by the ap­plied support structure and its ornaments, by the function the building fulfills in the cityscape and by the expression of the function: museum, the building is carry­ing.

In articulating masses the museum function demands that attention be raised and visitors invited, thus the common rooms (vestibule, library, meeting room) were placed above one another in the cen­terpiece. The block of these rooms is crowned by the large tent of a roof, covered by glazed ceramics. The globe on the top of the roof, visible from far away conveys the idea that this is a place worth visiting for geology-related issues. Once a visitor perceives that, he will receive more information when standing in front of the facade. The marvellous decoration of the exterior and the block of centerpiece, flanked by “bastions” which are extended by an attic level, promises an interior, not to be missed. Entering through the port a very special system of spaces attracts the visitor. The glass-wood wind-break is divided in three. Its glazing has etched or­naments. Behind this wall a three-vault covered space with a cross-house appears, leading the visitor up to the second floor, towards the exhibition rooms. This space-series is closed by an apsis like stairway.

The reflection of function is also very clear on the facades: the office windows

side-aisles, divided from the “nave” by only one couple of pillons on each side. Above this room on the second floor the meeting room opens, occupying the whole of the centerpiece so that the room of the “bastions” connects into the central space by means of a triple vault.

The similar structure of rooms above one another has already been seen in the centerpiece of the Museum of Applied Arts. In the case of this the steel structure would allow the size of the rooms, placed on top of one another, to increase. The open vestibule on the ground floor is fol­lowed by the ceremonial hall on the first floor extended on both sides and lit by rosetta window, and on the second floor the room under the dome occupies two levels, thus giving this room an ethereal feeling. The rooms attached to the cor­ridors of the wings side reflect a more sub­ordinate role.

The only really common room of the Postal Savings Bank is the counter-section which was established by building up the yard. As a result a line of offices occupy the street-facades. The solution the architect ap­plied to the facades on the bank was a level “curtain wall” which reflects the aforemen­tioned structure and a relative flexibility that is allowed by the steel-beam structure. The reasoning for this choice must have been thus, rather than just the narrow street alone. This shows an ingenious sense of seeing development trends, just as when he de­signed the roofs for the “birds”. As if Lechner saw that a few generations later, people will see the patterns on his roofs from above. It was worth spending more energy to find solutions such as these for even the

are attached vertically with brick-frame, while the museum on the second floor is indicated by huge, three-part windows, connected by a border at the springing line.

The structure chosen for this: the center­piece has transverse walls and the vaults of the vestibule spaning 8 metres are sup­ported by riveted consoles, beams and pil­lars. Three riveted steel arch-bends divide the vestibule into three vault-segments. Lechner marked the untraditional steel structure by ornaments adding. This is why he formed “waves” with rivet-type ornaments on the inside of the arch-bends stucco cover, and “rivets” in the fluted columns that are supporting them. The “stalactite”-like segments of the capitals refer to the function of the building. From the ceiling, in the middle of the stucco rosetta of the vaults, the chandelier hangs on a stalactite-like supports. The master was able to attach the “waves” of the wind-break and the arch-bends as well as the two arms of the main stairway to the 8 metres span of the vestibule which appear in front of us. The decoration of the in­terior follows the elements of the inner di­visions: arch-bends, pillons, vaults. The zig-zag frame of the wall sections is in har­mony with the Zsolnay-ceramic rims on the exterior forms of the roofs.

The dynamism of the spatial composi­tion draws one towards the main stairway. From the hall on the first floor the library room opened, including the four windows between the “bastions” of the main facade centerpiece. Not only in the width of the ground floor vestibule, but taking also the extensions on both sides, attached like

smallest problem. His critics saw only that the plans were delayed.

The Museum of Applied Arts, the Geo­logical Institute and the Postal Savings Bank are the key elements in learning about Lechner’s architecture. The intellec­tual values represented in these buildings show the quality of Hungarian architecture at the turn-of-the-century which is con­sidered and proudly acknowledged as part of a European heritage by critics (e.g. N. Pevsner) in this field.

Budapest, 1993.

Martha Nemes

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