Historic building interior design renovation guide
Reorient designed and supervised an interior design renovation at Dessewffy Street 47, a protected historic apartment building in Budapest. Our first steps in designing any interior are to research the existing building and understand it’s historic context. Our next post describes how we used our research to guide our interior design renovation and décor choices at Dessewffy Street 47.
There is a great wealth of historic information available about Budapest buildings. For example resources for online research include the Budapest 100 project, the Budapest time machine, Ovas and Köztérkép websites. Design research can be inspiring, generate ideas and help guide decision making in a historic building renovation project.
Understanding Historic Context – The Architect’s Work
Architect Vogel Jenő completed Dessewffy Utca 47 around 1929/30. Relatively little has been written about Jenő. Our research found he was a Jewish Architect who designed at least around 40 buildings predominantly in the Art Deco style in Budapest.
After this building Vogel also completed the ‘Four Season’s Margitudvar building in 1931 on the same street, Dessewffy Utca 30.
Finally in 1932 Vogel completed the twin to Dessewffy 47 at Szövetség utca 17.
There are a number of similarities which help us understand these buildings! Firstly all of these three buildings all have a set-back the central part of the front façade, which breaks the width of the building into 3 sections. This allows more light to enter in through the front façade but more importantly it has the visual effect of emphasising verticality. Furthermore aligning the windows and balconies into connected vertical strips, divides each façade again into more vertical lines. Finally all the buildings use terracotta clay bricks which lend a sense of warmth to the street front. In short these design traits help to confirm the buildings are all designed by the same Architect in the same style: namely Art Deco!
Understanding Historic Context – The City
Budapest Art Deco buildings often display this preference in the use of exposed brick, perhaps best exemplified by the buildings around Madách Imre tér (square), designed by Gyula Wälder in 1937/38. The image below shows playful decorative use of brick relief patterns on the façade. Similar brick relief techniques are also visible on Vogel Jeno’s buildings. You will also notice the emphasis on verticality in the slender concrete columns and expressed brick columns on the façade.
Buildings in Budapest are typically stucco rendered with ornate period features of their era. Often these are pastel and grey painted crumbling façades in need of restoration. By comparison the warmth and crispness of terracotta Art Deco brickwork stands out. Although unusual and less common in Budapest these facades seem to have weathered much better over time. We took inspiration from this warm mood and decided to adopt it into the interior design, by using other warm materials and lights. Understanding the building as Art Deco encouraged us to mix some of this style into our contemporary modern interior design.
Using historic building research to guide interior design & renovation
Budapest is a historic city that somehow survived two world wars with very little damage. This prevailing historic character attracts people to Budapest, and makes it a fantastically interesting place to be.
The point of our approach is to be able to make design decisions that are harmonious with this historic context. Researching historic context allows us to gain insight into some of the intentions of previous designers. Indeed by identifying this Art Deco style, we can choose to make an interior that resonates with the existing building design. Our next post ‘Art Deco revival & Neo Deco interior design Guide‘ describes this process.
We hope you enjoyed this post. If you would like to discuss your next historic building renovation project, please contact us here!