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A classicist villa that carries architecture in its genes

The former Heller villa on Svábhegy had a special fate. It survived two world wars unscathed, but almost fell into ruins after the regime change. The valuable classicist building even adds an exciting addition to the "original-copy" question. We summarize the history of the villa, and then present the renovation concept of Pyxis Nautica in the next section.

Cogwheel to the holiday home

Svábhegy was traditionally a grape-growing region until the last third of the 19th century, when the first summer residences, holiday homes, and small villas appeared among the vineyards.

Map of the area in 1873

The area was mainly liked by artists, actors and writers, Mór Jókai also had a villa here. The development was then given another impetus by the cogwheel, which was handed over in 1874, which took its passengers from Városmajor to the upper terminus in a quarter of an hour. Thus, in the last decades of the century, a new villa district began to emerge, which remained a holiday area for a long time, so much so that until 1910 the cog wheel only ran in the summer.

Preface of the Heller villa

Our building, Albert Diescher's Villa Heller, had a strange history: an earlier villa designed by the architect's father, József Diescher.

József Diescher was one of the defining architects and builders of the mid-19th century; it

In the 1850s and 1860s, he bought several larger plots of land on a northeastern slope of Svábhegy. Not just for investment purposes: he built his own holiday home on it roughly in the center of the area, at the end of the then-unnamed Menyét út. But after the death of József Diescher in 1874, his widow and children found themselves in a difficult situation. Although the architect-construction contractor had many uncollected accounts receivable, he also left a significant debt behind. Diescher's two sons, Albert and Lajos, who work in architecture, had to sell a large part of their considerable real estate assets in order to carry on their father's business.

The huge area belonging to the Diescher holiday home was soon divided into no fewer than forty construction lots and sold. From this, the wool merchant Gábor Heller bought a plot of land next to the Diescher holiday home.

The Heller villa (1882–1905)

In August 1882, the businessman, who was approaching the end of his thirties, acquired the area separated from the Diescher lot and located in its immediate vicinity, which was one of the best-equipped lots in the situation after the subdivision. The development of Normafa and Vilma út reduced the cul-de-sac character of Menyét út, and the cogwheel's moving house was also close to it.

Heller entrusted Albert Diescher as the responsible builder, and thanks to the quick administration, the Heller family was able to start using the newly built summer house in the late spring of 1883. Although no original plans for the construction of the Heller villa have survived, several reconstruction plans have survived for the neighboring Diescher villa, from which the original condition can be traced back.

This shows that the Diescher villa essentially had the same floor plan as the Heller villa, meaning that it was probably built as a copy, a kind of small copy.

Heller was probably familiar with the villa of the Diescher family and could have asked Albert, who was involved in architectural planning and execution, to design an identical building for him. And although the Diescher villa is still standing, it was rebuilt beyond recognition in the last century, unlike the Heller villa.

The entrance to the Heller villa was secured from both Menyét út (south) and the garden (north), and the rectangular floor plan, two-tract building could be entered in the central axis in both directions. A mass of four-pillared porch emerged from the central part of the garden-facing facade.

Owned by the Lang family and the Kövesi family (1905–1945)

After the death of Gábor Heller in June 1903, the building was left to his wife, Jenny Latzko, who two years later sold it to Erzsébet Reidner, born László Lang, for 40,000 crowns. In accordance with the new needs, an unknown designer soon prepared several expansion plans, of which the bathroom connected to the southeast part of the building and the kitchen connected to the southwest part of the building were probably realized.

To meet the needs of the Lang family, a small terrace with a railing was also built

for the western facade until 1912 at the latest. Lászlóné Lang died in 1926 and her three children, Gizella, Gusztáv and Elza, inherited the cottage in equal proportions. Next

the villa has been modernized: a new one is added to the southwest corner, this time slightly larger, but the villa

an annex building lower than its mass was attached, the conversion plan was designed by Bolgár Arnold

made by a master builder.

Dr. bought the building in the summer of 1930 for 60,000 pengő. Hospital director Géza Kövesi,

professor of medicine and his wife Paula Klein. About the married couple in 1944 according to the regulations of the time

they duly noted on the property sheet that they were Jewish.

The II. from the Second World War to privatization (1945–1995)

The elderly Jewish couple who owned the villa in Svábhegy probably did not survive the events of 1944-1945. Based on the available information, the villa was not damaged in the war, but the building was probably looted and robbed. The building became a new owner for a single year, but it was nationalized in 1952. The plot was divided into two equal parts, the new plot boundary was drawn between the eastern and western side boundaries, under the horizontal embankment in front of the villa's veranda. The only approach direction to the building thus became Menyét út.

Probably during the period of nationalization, the building was divided into four flats, all of which were very small in size, the largest being just over 50 square meters, with two rooms.

In 1966, a small wooden house was built on the separated part of the plot, then between 1979 and 1984, a modern apartment building with five apartments. Meanwhile, we do not know about any kind of renovation of the villa.

Privately owned (1995–)

The four apartments of the former Heller villa were converted into condominiums in 1995, which were built in the XII. was sold by the district municipality and has since been privately owned. Although various renovation and expansion works began after 1996, they were left unfinished. This is how the decline of the building began: homeless people moved in, the sheet metal covering of the roof was stolen. Probably because of the latter, the continuously soaking porch and the middle part of the roof structure collapsed around 2012-2013. The roof was largely torn into the interior of the building, the stone pillars of the veranda fell towards the valley and broke.

Since then, the remains of the roof have been stabilized to a minimal level, the remains of the Doric columns of the veranda are lying in the garden, partly buried in the ground.

The new era

It is a strange twist that although the Heller villa was on the verge of collapse, as it can still be saved, after the renovation it can return more of József Diescher's former concept than the original building itself, the Diescher villa, which has now been rebuilt beyond recognition. Saving the Heller villa is thus an important gesture, all the more so because it is a faithful impression of the early period of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, a well-proportioned, high-quality creation, with finely chiseled plaster decorations and a porch enclosed in a portico, whose iron windows stood out from the less typical residential buildings of the period from his line.

The history of the renewal of the Heller villa, if not so long in time, is otherwise complicated. For this very reason, we will report on this, as well as the renovation concept of Pyxis Nautica, and the new building planned on the plot, which respects the architecture of the Heller villa, in the next section.

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