architecture : urban : visual culture

Castle house recovering from its cinder

The former resort of Count Kuno Kleberlsberg had been empty since 1990 when eventually its renovation started, by virtue of the local citizens', artists' and civil support. Below are the words of Ernő Kálmán DLA, the architect of the project.

The project

The Klebelsberg Palace is one of the most significant palaces in Hungarian cultural history. Count Kuno Klebelsberg (1875–1932), Minister of Culture, received prominent foreign politicians and representatives of cultural politics here. The complex was the venue of historical events. Its function and use are basically determined by this fact; the rebuilt palace must be declared a historical site. The accommodation and catering functions must be linked to events, similarly to the memorial house of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Buda Castle.

The complex must be made the venue of cross-border academic and scientific events and must be operated as a knowledge centre transferring Klebelsberg’s intellectual heritage. It must work as one of the Collegium Hungaricums, as their real and virtual Hungarian cultural centre, functioning as an academic member of the network of Collegium Hungaricums with its interactive knowledge base and Skype-web system.

The high quality and intellectual level of the building must be preserved through its use, in a way that is worthy of Klebelsberg’s oeuvre. The secondary function can be the organisation of other events. Local people, citizens, scholars and artists fought for the survival and reconstruction of the complex throughout decades. They want to visit the memorial hall as an open house and cultural centre.

The objective is that presenting the life and epoch of the one-time Minister of Culture, this historical site should take visitors for a time travel in an environment formed in one of the most dramatic periods of Hungarian history. It fundamental to link the present and the past; tradition with the most state-of-the-art technology as the spiritual centre of Collegium Hungaricums – Balassi Institutes.

In order to evoke Klebelsberg’s heritage in the proper way, the complex may find its main function particularly in organising talent management, academic and cultural programmes, including:

  • further residential trainings lasting from one or two days to one week for secondary school and university students, PhD students, young experts representing different academic fields, as well as for teachers with outstanding performance;
  • and academic trainings;
  • creative camps (especially in the fields of the arts, music and literature). 

In addition, there is a possibility:

  • to organise one or two days’ long national and international conferences and workshops,
  • and provide accommodation for their participants;
  • to accommodate smaller foreign delegations; 

  • in order to support the cultural tourism of university groups and professional communities, and possibly also
  • the excursions to Budapest made by secondary school classes from the provinces, to provide quality accommodation for them, which would generate some revenue.

The rooms in the building complex are named after the events or prominent personalities of the period between the two world wars, related to Klebelsberg’s person and illustrated with relevant photos. The photos or photomontages are accompanied with contemporary quotations (mainly by Klebelsberg) or short historical explanatory texts. The present equivalents of the topics displayed in the photos are also staged together with them, so that young visitors may get a better understanding of history, or may identify more with the past events and personalities having a strong influence on our present. Therefore, the complex is divided into two parts, one of them being the Memorial Hall.

The Memorial Hall

Due to the two-courtyard layout, the cloister and garden of the Memorial Hall divide the building into two parts functionally, as well. The core is the lounge furnished with contemporary pieces of furniture. On the walls, there are authentic relics commemorating Klebelsberg’s honoured political and social status, activities and private life. The library, restored to its original condition, is directly connected to the lounge. To the library, research rooms with modern equipment are attached.

In order to deliver the message to contemporaneous people, it is indispensable to set up an interactive 'Klebelsberg knowledge base', using 21st century technology, which is suitable for holding irregular classes or supplying information to satisfy individual interests. Klebelsberg’s age and personality would be evoked with the help of scenes from films, photos, newspaper clippings, etc., to which tasks, tests etc. would be attached with the help of a developable playful system, which would conjure up the world between the two world wars with touchscreens and contact pads for students and visitors.

The space for temporary exhibitions, which is a venue for receptions, events and presentations, will also focus on events related to the periods concerned. In the entrance hall, the advertisement of current cultural programmes and events, and the selling of tickets for cultural events may put the memorial hall in a daily cultural context, with the help of video technology. The decorative inner courtyard is perfectly suitable for organising concerts and celebrations.

A proper continuation of the decorative courtyard will be the rose garden with
Klebelsberg’s statue, since rose breeding was one of his favourite pastimes. 

Thus, due to its closeness to nature and as a venue for trainings, the complex may as well be used as an open-air school. 

We can remain faithful to Klebelsberg’s intellectual heritage be having the whole project implemented with Hungarian expertise, technology and innovation. By accentuating Klebelsberg’s character, we do not wish to create a cult around him, only to present his attitude, which was patriotic in the best sense. This patriotism led this statesman, who spared neither his health nor his energy to create one of the most significant oeuvres of the past decades, which has been exerting an influence on the life of the Hungarian nation up to the present.

The guesthouse

The guesthouse's wings are of different level and function, decorated and furnished with poster photos, murals, and in some places with contemporary objects reminding the visitor of the period between the two world wars, commemorating Klebelsberg’s outstanding fields of activity.

The middle, completely rebuilt one-time farm building is a wing with a gallery,
having the youthful atmosphere of dormitories, which may evoke the efforts made for sport and the Olympic Games. The rooms are named after contemporary Olympic champions, and the sport investments of the 1920s are presented.

The wing on the side of Templom Street may serve as a place of accommodation for teachers. Therefore, it must remind the visitor of the Kuno Klebelsberg, who had schools built, supported religion and developed education. The figures and photos illustrating the very successful project of the 1920s and 1930s aimed at the building of elementary schools will be placed here.

The one-time Swiss cottage commemorates the policy supporting academic life at universities, public collections and at the academy. The entrance hall may serve as a meeting-point for students and teachers as it is a community space where the oeuvre and overall concept of the one-time Minister of Interior and then Minister of Religious Affairs and Public Education would be presented in a gigantic wall poster. As he said in 1922, when he started to work as a minister: 'Nowadays, our homeland may primarily be preserved and made great not by the sword, but by culture.' This three-level concept of students, teachers and academicians joins the 28 rooms of the guesthouse, where about 60 teachers and students may be accommodated.

Ernő Kálmán DLA


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