architecture : urban : visual culture

Midlife - The reincarnation of a Mid-Century Modern Villa

The Craft Benson architects knew that the renovation of a house with such strong characteristics can only be accomplished with success through the same aesthetic world with even stronger characteristics. The inspiration for the basic concept came from the first decades of the American era of the works of Marcel Breuer. 

Hungarian architects may have noticed it with pleasure, that the heritage of the post war modern architectural period has become one of the most important architectural issues in Hungary in recent years.

A crucial part of the issues concerning this heritage is the rediscovery and revaluation of the architectural works from the 1960’s and ‘70’s. The technical and technological possibilities of the era were limited compared to the features, expectations and regulations of today, thus reconstruction and modernization are inevitable in the cases of the rescued houses from this period. It is a real challenge, but these forgotten houses and their faded values can get a second chance in the hands of savvy designers and craftsmen.
This was exactly the case during the reconstruction of the lawyer and two-time Olympic champion Dr. Ferenc Török’s former family house originally designed by András Schőmer in 1974.





The renovation approach and the scope of Marcell Benson and his colleagues in charge of architectural and interior design and Tünde Csáki, decorator - well known in the film industry - is extremely instructive. They knew that the renovation of a house with such strong characteristics can only be accomplished with success through the same aesthetic world with even stronger characteristics. For this particular reason and because of the owner’s close relation to the film industry the inspiration for the basic concept came from the first decades of the American era of the works of Marcel Breuer. In the interiors we can find solutions, details and graphics that recall famous movie sets and decorations by directors like David Lynch or Tarantino, but without any exaggeration or snobbery.

The original red-brick building with terraces and a pronounced vertical system, borrowed a lightweight, detached from the ground character to the cube of the building. The design challenge of the renovation was, that after the renovation three generations would be using the house which required that in addition to the glazed terrace box additions, a metal cover would also be built on the originally flat roofed building.

A truly elegant aura surrounds the house reminiscent of the '50s american villa architecture. The light white color aids the integration of the additional glass enclosures of the upstairs living room into the original architecture. This closed off and open-plan system of terraces goes well with the mass formatting and fragmentation of Schömer's original design. It’s also well served by the greyish metal-cladding that runs along the terraces, which Breuer applied likewise.






If we enter the house we see visual details, almost alike of a cinematic setting, all correspond the passionate love of objects and the consistent handling of style. The use of the glazing copper-plated cladding is remarkable in the kitchen countertop, juxtaposed by the distinguished and majestic, deep-tones of wood of the built-in kitchen cabinet and the stone covering of the other wall. Memorable are the mid-century modern period reminiscent wired glass separators between the bathroom and the bedroom framed in a hollow-section enclosure.

This middle-aged modern building was given a second chance - to turn from the road of destruction and demolition to fulfillment and rejuvenation - at the age of forty-four.

English Brief based on the article in Octogon magazine’s 2018/03 issue.
original author: József Martinkó

 

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