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    College of Selley

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    Educational food production plant in Karcag

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    Family home in Szarvas Gábor street

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    Franciscan Bethany nursing home in Szécsény

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    Greek Catholic Church in Hodász

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    Gypsy Church of Hodász

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    Private House in Liptó Street

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Retrospect: Gábor Csanády’s work spanning 25 years

Georgina Johnston
07 Feb 2020

Seven projects detailing the Hungarian architect’s portfolio

Retaining the old to recycle into the new

The classical proportions of late modern architecture reverberate through the new buildings of the Agricultural Vocational School and College of Sellye, Hungary, created by Gábor Csanády and his colleagues by re-using partially broken-down buildings and reinterpreting some of their elements. A new dormitory has been built next to the old one with the addition of a new greenhouse; the school gained access to a gym utilising a boiler house. Joined with the former dormitory building, the new installations form a building complex that encircles a U-shaped inner courtyard.

The old boiler house is a two storey, prefabricated ferro-concrete skeleton with a very rare, reinforced concrete lattice roof structure, which the designers set as an important goal to preserve, which also kept the gym construction costs significantly reduced. The building was made fit for its new function with the raising of the roof structure, so now only the boiler chimney suggests its former role. 

The conservatory's simple yet beautiful four segment board structure resonates with the rear fenestration of the dormitory building which is equipped with solar panels over the entire width of the roof. In the interior, the two storey living units are connected in pairs to a small anteroom and bathroom, which can be accessed from the bright, spacious corridors. The closely set windows of the facade opening to the courtyard create a tight connection between the interior and the exterior, while these openings give the building a vibrant rhythm. Pure, transparent functionalism thus dominates all members of the whole, which excellently regularizes the eventual-eclectic look of the school campus.

Educational food production plant 

Tight, symmetrical construction and a pleasant rhythm characterize the new food production plant of the Szentannai Sámuel School in Karcag. The school also owns a farm, so the plant plays an important role in practical education, though the products manufactured here also generate revenue for the school. The vicinity of the single storey house, which resembles simple barns, is usually endangered by high groundwater, so after removing the surface soil, a thick bed of crushed stone was placed down, with a slab foundation raised significantly above the ground. This solution not only eliminates capillary water absorption but also provides continuous ventilation to the building. On the south side of the simple saddleback roof, which runs east-west, solar panels provide power to the geothermal heating system, but also serve the energy needs of the entire building.

The strong horizontal emphasis of the building is divided by four axes provided by four immense glass windows, each one for the four main units of the plant, the mill, the pasta factory, the fruit processor and the oil press. The strict logical order is also evident in the structural design of the open spaces; warehouses are wedged between production units and the transverse walls of the traditional brick building converge in the loading zones at both ends of the building and form structurally independent houses. Enclosed by these are the hall-like, elevated spaces illuminated through glass walls that reach up to the purlin beams both on the north and south sides. The four entrances on the south façade, hidden in the sides of the recessed glass wall, provide an elegant and practical way to approach the plants, but the small covered lobbies of the foreground created by the recess also greatly facilitate the day-to-day operation of the plants.

Featuring a utilitarian floor plan and tradition respecting mass formation, Gábor Csanády and his colleagues’ building is elevated by its facade openings, careful orientation, and thoughtful, modest functionalism to be an environmentally responsive, contemporary creation.

Redefining a family home

In Budapest, the remodeling of a 80s family home gave architect Gábor Csanády the opportunity to design a charming and cozy family house. Csanády took the detached house on Szarvas Gábor street, which once dominated the narrow plot with its robust L-shape, and with a subtle but playful touch, transformed it into a sleeker, elongated home. Although on first glance the street front seems different from that of the original, only a gable was added, and the contours of the facade were left unaltered. The staircase, which was originally placed in the back of the house, was moved into the truncated octagonal bay projecting from the facade, thus granting the form function and meaning. It is a cantilevered extension of this bay’s street facing plane which forms the gable. The gable in turn made it possible to arrange the building’s roofing around a diagonal ridge, a large glued laminated beam that now bears the weights of the roof and the loft on each side.

While the street front is defined by the clean lines of the gable, the dominant feature in the back is the wooden pergola, which is also accentuated by the balcony placed atop it. The line of the simple pitched roof follows the slope of the plot, but is broken by the lowered eaves at the entrance. Although the eaves seem to be running parallel when viewed from the street, they were designed with an unusual asymmetry which follows the house as it narrows towards the back of the plot, placing the focus on the back patio and the chimney of its freestanding outdoor oven. This asymmetry enlivens the static mass of the building and makes it dynamic; movement and spirit are embodied not only in the facade and the broken eaves, but also the loft extension running parallel with the roof’s ridge, capped with a flat roof, and the entrance placed at the building’s side. The loft extension’s standing seam metal roof also closely matches the color of the gable cladding and the roof tiles.

The interior is defined by the clean white of the walls and the natural wood textures of the exposed beams as well as the door and window frames, this simplicity accents the play of light and shadow created in the obtuse angles between some walls. The skylit stairway and the narrow gallery it connects to organize the interior into its functional units; the upstairs bedrooms, the entryway, and the shared family spaces of the ground floor, the kitchen and the living room, which also provide access to the terrace and its wooden pergola, recalling the wood of the beams inside.

From nursery to nursing home

The remodelled building is in the centre of Szécsény, next to the Franciscan Church and the monastery. The old house is a U-shaped building with saddleback and semi-saddleback roofed wings arranged around a courtyard. The dilapidated building, built circa between 1920 and 1940 with a facade typical of the small towns of the time. Originally designed as a school, it was later used as a kindergarten. The complex was transformed into a social home for 30 elderly people. The remodelling retained the old structure, restored the doors and windows to their original state and redesigned the facade architecture. Major changes were only made to the structure of the southern wing. Preservation was the basic concept of the project. It was a good decision, by which the environment has retained its own atmosphere near the Franciscan Church. The design has brought about three major changes; it has redesigned the floor plan of the southern wing, added a new chapel to the west wing and expanded the north wing with an open air patio.

The most successful part of the project is the chapel, which is an enclosed space with a saddleback roof and a semicircular sanctuary. Its lobby is connecting elegantly to the corridor system of the lodge and is also accessible from the outside. With the appealing extension of the saddleback roof, the western wall is elevated to a tower like, accentuated element, and the interior is tastefully divided by an additional gallery. The lighted sanctuary, the opening of the tower like part of the wall, expands the small space, enriches it with light, and gives the little chapel a plastic sacred character. The space is covered with a wooden structure, with double ridge beams, visible trusses and luminaires well placed between the purlins. The rough stone wall, warm wooden structure and beautiful lighting enhance the intimate atmosphere of the chapel and underline the significance of the sanctuary.

The floor plan of the hotel section and the room layout are nicely structured. It was thoughtful to create a double corridor in front of the rooms, to separate the passageway from the common area. The corridor has a continuous longitudinal glass wall opening on the courtyard. The western façade of the building, which can be seen from the architecturally prestigious Franciscan church, is also beautiful and rich in detail. The two facilities thus show the image of a prestigious neighbourhood.

Greek Catholic Church 

The Greek Catholic church of Hodász, designed by Gábor Csanády and colleagues, following millennial architectural traditions, for a remarkably old established congregation; while there are icons left from the 16th century, the baroque church built in the late 18th century had to be demolished, partly due to inherent design errors. This can explain that from a distance only minor contemporary characteristics refer to the time of construction; the tower above the entrance and the lanterns of the dome below the octagonal roof above the crossings are definitive contemporary elements setting this church with classical proportions in the present day.

The modest exterior is augmented by the simple white plaster facade leading up to the roof structure, but around the dome and the slatted tower, low-pitched roof elements covered with diversely shaped plates dominate the building. The simplistic floor plan clearly shows that a regular circle forms the congregation space, with the support pillars of the gallery and even the altar table is on this arc, and the main axis of the easterly oriented temple, the altar also the origin of the semicircular apse. The vestibule of the main entrance situated on the west side is connected to the sanctuary by its symmetry, from where the sacristy can be accessed on a wider, arched corridor, also a hidden staircase to the gallery can be found here, which can be interpreted as a gesture towards orthodox architecture. As the entrance next to the sacristy overlooks the street, the corridor is also a hall of the temple and the western main entrance and hall are used primarily for ceremonies. The columns of the crossing surround a regular sphere, creating an unusually harmonious central space.

Although there was not even a promise of funds for the construction of the church, it was partly supported by German churches, enabling the creation of a house of worship of high architectural quality. Respect for tradition combines thoughtful, forward looking structural solutions in this church. The interior is also dominated by the white of the walls and the natural colour of the wood, which lightly emphasize the distinctive shapes of the structure, exemplified by the arches tucked between the square pillars that hold the cupola.

Gypsy Church: social living facility, temporary home for families and kindergarten

Architecture is particularly suitable for expressing the identity of a people; and the history of a community in Hodász, Szabolcs County, Hungary, is a good example of how a strong community can evolve through strengthening their identity. The adobe building that was in those days formed into a chapel eroded so much in the course of times its successors decided to build a church which was later built based on Gábor Csanády’s diploma work plans; the church was dedicated in 1995.

The building complex was formed after thorough research; the strong character it represented goes against the architectural trends. It is mainly the church building that points to the complex system created by the designer; the three bayed temple interior, the semicircular, granite ornamented apse and the entrance façade that evokes a basilican configuration correspond to the requirements of Greek catholic liturgy. The turriculate mass built over the classic church is a puritan archetype of the wooden steeple churches of Szabolcs County; it is complemented by an architectural reference to the building of tents that is a living tradition of the Gypsy community. The Gypsy tent is a simple structure, a tarp thrown on rods leant against each other, that is reflected by the rooflines of the church and the gables of the later built kindergarten, as well as the pattern of a tarp folded aside appears on the façade of more than one of the buildings. According to the requests and desires of the community, the architect chose an easily understandable archaic design instead of progressive solutions.

The plans contained a proposal for a community centre forming a common courtyard with the church; after building the community centre and as an enlargement thereof, a social living facility was built where the temporary home for families has later been placed. As the final step, the clients decided to build a kindergarten; as it was impossible to be attached to the building complex, it has been built on the other side of the street. During the process of design, respecting the circumstances of the Gypsy community, the demands of the church and the architectural traditions of the region, i.e. Szabolcs County, was an important aspect, and these are reflected by the installation and the shaping of the buildings. Simple masses, traditional materials and structures are combined with modern functionality; designer took into account the specific behavioural need as well; that is the building needs to be a public space suitable for a lot of outdoor events. The whole complex suggests a disciplined order, as the reduction of colours was also an obvious intention of the designer, which is definitely against the expectations of the Gypsy community, and fits into the architectural image of Szabolcs County, these are, where possible, overwritten by the users. The ingenious building complex equally corresponds to the intentions of the designer and the demands of the clients.

Private house pulled from a poor state back into its prime

Moderate proportion, balance and a subtly anthropomorphic sight are the characteristics of a newly built private house in the steep, hillside of Liptó Street in Budapest. Through their design, Gábor Csanády and his colleagues undertook solving a mistaken urban situation. The house built in the ‘40s that originally stood there had been in a poor state, and the buildings of later eras could not fit favourably into the surroundings; rethinking the confused, eclectic image was only possible by constructing a new building.

Due to the obligation to install, the house had to be adjusted to the partition wall of the neighbouring building; in addition, the designers adapted the main walls of the building to the flat limiting walls of that neighbouring house, and developed a simple, square layout. By following the ridge height and the angles of the roof pitch of the neighbouring building, the new house has been nicely aligned to the already existing situation; at the same time, the mass of the building cut into the steep-slope corner lot is a new approach of utilising the features of the site.

The street façade is one single architectural gesture, interrupted only by the cornice and its continuation to the footing; the simple contour is enriched by use of precious materials: the roof topping the white-plastered façade is covered with anthracite roof tiles, while, in accordance with this, the bottom floor is coated with limestone for a better surface protection. The energy demand of the house is supplied by modern building engineering that meets the needs of today: the prudently developed thermal insulation is complemented with an air to water heat pump system. The hidden roller shutters of the excellently insulated fenestrations are in harmony with the closed fence panels. At the back of the three storey building, a staircase along the wall of the neighbouring house links the basement garage and the service facility units with the commonly used spaces on the ground floor, that is the living room, the kitchen and the dining room. The ferro-concrete skeleton of the house makes it possible that the inner space of the ground floor is spacious without roof supports, with its large glass panes it is open towards the terrace that is turned from the neighbouring houses; whereby the designers could create a bright, transparent, still familiar common area. The upper storey where the bedrooms are is the space for relaxation, to which the lengthwise fenestrations also contribute. 

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