architecture : urban : visual culture

Pristine Renovation - reconstruction of the Dessewffy Mansion

The renovation of the more than 350 years-old mansion by Gábor Erhardt was a highly successful project taking only 3 years. Even though the original building has its own unique history with influences from several different eras, each of them had been preserved in some way in the finished renovation.

Historical data

The building was presumably erected in 1659, as indicated by the date carved into an indoor stone frame of Renaissance style, and its first owners may have been the Bónis family. It became the property of the Dessewffy family as late as the 19th century and they owned it until 1948. Then it was taken over by the state and the building was used as offices for the local agricultural co-operative.

There is little to be known about the years following the change of the political regime in Hungary, but it is sure that the building was standing empty for ten years, only its ground floor used as a storage facility by a nearby winery.


Reconstruction of the Dessewffy Mansion - architect: Gábor Erhard - interior design: Ágnes Bálint, Rita Igaz - photo: Tamás Szántó

 

Description of the building

This one-storey building covered by a pitched roof is located in a garden, partially surrounded by a wall. The layout of the mansion is a U-shape facing the west, with its lower and upper main entrances opening on the projection of the westward main facade.

The original (Renaissance style) core of the lower level is a row of spaces with barrel vaults featuring additional welsh vaults, from the central element of which there is the staircase leading to the upper floor (built in the Baroque age). In front of the main mass, there used to be a similarly built, barrel-vaulted archway with welsh vaults but it was later (in the Baroque age) walled up. The two projections on the corners, featuring "Prussian mitre" ceilings obviously must have been built in the 20th century.


Reconstruction of the Dessewffy Mansion - architect: Gábor Erhard - interior design: Ágnes Bálint, Rita Igaz - photo: Tamás Szántó

 

The upper floor layout is somewhat more complex, however, it originally must have followed the logic of that of the ground floor. Above the archway, there is a closed corridor, along which the system of openings does not match the lower arches. The core of the building, that is the main mass is dual pass with smaller arches at the back and larger ones at the front. In the ceilings, we can see Renaissance barrel vaults with welsh vaults as well as Czech mitre vault-rows and trough vaults and flat ceilings, with all typical structures being represented. The outer main walls and inner cross walls originate from the first period, while the thin inner longitudinal walls seem to be from the Baroque age.


Reconstruction of the Dessewffy Mansion - architect: Gábor Erhard - interior design: Ágnes Bálint, Rita Igaz - photo: Tamás Szántó

 

The renovation

Renovation of the building became possible utilising EU touristic development funds. The owner, Helia-D cosmetics company created a touristic attraction in accordance with its profile offering a herbal theme.

The ground floor houses a herb distillery and a space suitable for small groups to produce cremes and soaps, as well as a tea room, café and souvenir shop with their service rooms. The upper floor can be visited through a designated exhibition route, during which the history of the building is also introduced.


Reconstruction of the Dessewffy Mansion - architect: Gábor Erhard - interior design: Ágnes Bálint, Rita Igaz - photo: Tamás Szántó

 

 

In the space beyond the entrance, there is the treasure of the building, the stone frame signalling the original building date, as well as the ticket office. Two larger spaces open from here: a lecture room and a library. From this latter, we may enter a smaller room where the local herbs are introduced to the visitors. Leaving to the other direction we find three rooms depicting the lifestyle of the turn of the century (salon, bedroom and bathroom). 

In the corner projections there are beauty treatment rooms and on the upper floor, there is a large room also suitable for workshops in the herbal theme.

Gábor Erhardt

 

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