architecture : urban : visual culture

When mansion meets the wood workshop

How do we renovate our monumental buildings? How should we start? What function should we give to the building? It's always difficult to answer such questions. Eszter Rusz-Ajtony in her diploma would like to answer the economic, social and cultural problems of the local community in Altorja (Turia, Romania).

Wood is a living organ, symbol of circulation and renewal; the most ancient, natural, flexible and locally found building material, emanating warmth; energy, light and warmth. This building lets light and air in and out, it breathes. It opens and closes like a living creature. Wood is both tradition and innovation connecting past and future.

The first phase of my diploma project was the choice of site: the Apor-estate in Altorja (Turia, Romania) owned by the Apor family. The place is interpreted as a historical site, as part of the Szekler village and of Szeklerland in general. Three factors influenced the choice: form, structure and material. The project would like to answer the economic, social and cultural problems of the local community.


Mansion in Altorja - architect: Eszter Ajtony-Rusz

Mansion in Altorja - architect: Eszter Ajtony-Rusz



I also considered the contemporary design trends in Szeklerland. Young designers combine traditional culture with modern design designing furniture and objects for the contemporary city milieu. These designs could be materialized in a workshop equipped with modern technology. Hence the role of this community experimental workshop and exhibition site. 85% of the wood from Romanian forests is used only on primary level. The wood processing company in Réty (Rom. Reci) in Háromszék (Three Chairs) sells wood as timber or biomass. This problem could be solved by reviving the local timber and furniture industry.

Planning started by evaluating the existing buildings and marking the demolishable ones. The workshop is adjusted to the buildings already present on the estate also creating the transition between old and new. The new building borrowed its form from the existing farm buildings: long-shaped layout, pitched roof. It is functionally divided into four parts: the wood store and dryer, the space of the workshop, the service and other heated spaces (modelling, common, resting rooms) and the exhibition space and reception. The old and new parts are linked by a closed staircase and a bridge. Both longitudinal facades can be closed or opened by a lamellar structure. Under the lamellar exterior, the service spaces are surrounded by an insulating ground glass letting light in.


Mansion in Altorja - architect: Eszter Ajtony-Rusz

Mansion in Altorja - architect: Eszter Ajtony-Rusz


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