Paris Court Reconstruction Design
Paris Court Reconstruction Design
Original building passage (Henrik Schmahl, 1911) – Business house, bank, mansions
In 1910 on Budapest’s most expensive plot the Belvárosi Takarékpénztár (“downtown’s savings bank”) has built a new headquarters, on the ground floor with businesses, on the upper levels with flats and on the top floor with ateliers. The architect Henrik Schmahl designed an art-nouveau building with unique, arabic, moorish and gothic elements. The era’s most renown masters have been working on it, Zsolnay ceramics and glasses by Miksa Roth are amongst the decorating elements.
At the time of its construction it was Europe’s biggest building with a ceramic façade, up to the second floor with red copper and glassmosaic ornaments. Connecting the two façades, the passage - its ceiling consisting of glass crystal elements - is a special gemstone, a real spectacle in downtown Budapest. The Paris Court has been ever since a notion. Damages caused by WWII, several transformations afterwards faded its old splendour, but preserved its caracteristics despite the amortization and was waiting for decades to be renewed.
Reconstruction (Archikon, 2019) - passage, stores and luxury hotel
The owners wanted to transform the Paris Court worthy of its past a representative five star luxory hotel. On the ground floor and mezzanine level – in accordance with the tradition - shops have been placed. On the upper levels the flats and offices have been replaced by hotel rooms. On the unfinished flat roof the goal was to create the most exclusive residences of Budapest.
The remaining values, the protected heritage areas, the street façades required restauriation. The missing or transformed parts have to be reconstracted, also in order to fit the current regulations. To satisfy the new function to XXI. century needs, the passage became a heated indoor space, on both ends with a lightweight glass wall and canopy. From here can be reached the new elevator and staircase fitting the needs of fire-protection and functionality. Between the covered polygonal court and the two story high business space a new concrete slab was made, thus the original central space of the savings bank was restored.
Building in the rear wing was a logical step caused by the typical spatial structure seen by hotels and the extended needs of the mechanical system. Thus every hotel floor can be passed around, and the modern mechanical system recessed into the roof also took place here, invisible and noise-protected. On the former flat roof a new residence level was created by setting it back from the main façade. Its unique panorama was ideal for placing the presidential rooms here. Its façade summons the ones of the street in a contemporary manner. Old and new are separated visually on the roof terrace by a hanging garden.
Architectural concept – Behind the scene
The building of the Paris Court is from an era, when the unique gilded ornaments have been already created in workshops and installed on the building’s skeleton, just like a scenery. This scene is facing towards the main direction, but what is behind is also of an interest. We longed to share and make visible this experience, to restore and revive the main direction, but also to show what lies underneath. In the case of the Crystal Dome the once nonvisible structure came to light by a contemporary new glass covering, creating an exciting new element of the inner courtyard above the passage. The architectural goal, beyond restoration and revival of the past, is a contemporary transcript of these hidden gems within the frames of a well operating functional building.