The Kiscelli Museum preserves the Transylvanian Moor photo from around 1897, in which the Irányi Palace stands tall; that same year, the name of the street was changed from Hat to Iranyi. The house is now classed next to its peers with the same cornice height, but in the Transylvanian image - with a statue of an eagle made of cast iron on its attic at that time - it towers majestically above its lower, more modest neighbors.
A proud company, Sas és Körház Rt., bought this site in 1895, and two years later their building, designed by Antal Steinhardt and Adolf Láng, was ready for use. It was basically the headquarters of Saskör (which was an opposition society that cherished the memory of the freedom struggle before the 1870s, but became an influential group actively involved in urban politics after the creation of Budapest), but it was intended for a mixed function: the basement and the tract of the ground floor facing Irányi utca were a restaurant, the courtyard tracts of the ground floor, as well as a significant part of the mezzanine and the first floor were used by Saskör, the second and third floors were used as rental apartments. The inner courtyard of the Irányi Palace, which forms a U-shaped mass, was partially covered up to the height of the mezzanine floor, and the planes of the mezzanine and ground floor slabs were broken with glass domes, thus allowing light to enter the courtyard spaces.
The Saskör gradually lost its importance, it was no longer able to finance its operation, so the building was transferred to the Industrial Board of the Budapest Master Architects in the mid-1920s. In addition to minor and major renovations, technical improvements were also made: a four-person elevator with an independent elevator house was built directly behind the main stairwell in the courtyard area, and a low-pressure hot water heating system was introduced in the areas used by the board.
In the 1930s, the tenements were modernized, the restaurant, which had previously been divided into two, was reopened, and the arrival of wartime was signaled by the creation of a shelter. The eagle sitting on the attic was destroyed sometime during the war, then came socialism and the State Construction Company moved in. Events slowed down, the placement of a large "mine elevator" and the pouring of concrete into the glass-slab lighting marked the low point. In 1987, the main facade was renovated, but from then on, a period of slow decline followed. For a while, various companies rented offices after the regime change, but the building has been empty since the end of the nineties.
In 2017, the investor Optinvest Zrt. found the building in a deplorable state: the ballroom had been soaked for ten years, the folded-and-folded house had already undergone a failed demolition, so a postmodern hotel could not be replaced. It was probably at this time that the facade received district protection.
This is how the designer was given the task of cleaning this found treasure, polishing it again, and creating one of the most beautiful office buildings in the city. The joint goal of the investor and the architects was to preserve and reconstruct the historical parts of the building and spaces (the street front facade, the ballroom, the staircase and the forecourt), while dealing with the other spaces in a free, fresh, playful way to make them attractive and exciting, suitable for modern office functions creating new spaces.
In addition to retaining the street front ridge, after the demolition of the previous roof, the 5th and 6th floors were added within the limits allowed by the regulations. The narrow hanging corridors in the inner courtyard were given wider cantilever corridors equipped with glass railings. The annexes built at the back of the building were demolished, freeing up the ballroom and the regularity of the building mass. During the renovations, the opening grid of the "entangled" inner courtyard facade was unified, and the opening order of the new level was also adapted to this. The former glass dome, which was dismantled, replaced with glass bricks, and finally concreted, was returned to the building with contemporary means: as a walkable glass slab, with an atrium created by breaking the slab below, with a cool golden railing.
The "mine elevator" in the courtyard of the building was demolished, and then a new elevator was installed in the building in the best place from the point of view of the floor plan, to the right of the main entrance. It really was an operation, after the support structure of the entire house had to be cut vertically, then the monolithic reinforced concrete elevator shaft had to be implanted, so that finally the new elevator shaft was sewn together with the steel beams that had been cut in half to breathe new life into the building. This transformation was not only functionally beneficial, but it also freed up the inner courtyard and facades, bringing light to the building.
Besides all these rough architectural interventions, there was a subtle game of interior design going on inside the building.
Following the kintsugi principle (gold patting, an achievement of medieval Japanese pottery for gluing broken vessels), the meeting of existing-remaining structures and brand new ones is displayed as a kind of memento for posterity. The kintsugi appears in the golden floor covering separator profile, but also as a real golden mortar and winks with the other golden details (knobs, hand dryer, lamps).
Delicate pastel colors were ordered for each level, which appear on the wall surfaces of the corridor and on the floor carpet. These colors - together with the white plastered surfaces, the black minimalist lamps and the glass walls - initiate an interplay with the rustically left monolithic reinforced concrete, brick and Prussian glass surfaces. The steel-beamed, Prussian-glass-vaulted slabs of the solid, large-brick building were also made visible - in this case, adapting to the fire safety rules was a challenge.
The historicizing details were reconstructed by painter and sculptor restorers, but not according to the usual schemes either.
The yellow-pink interior of the ballroom has been reimagined with two shades of pale pistachio, white and the more discreet gilding returning to the original. The latter in itself is a good example of careful, understanding renovation: the restorers, the owner and the architects agreed that the stucco should be given a more sophisticated gilding compared to the original, so that only a few curves and contours were covered with gold smoke, and most of the surface remained white . The floor covering was also returned in a decent way, with solid oak parquet, in a French layer. Order has also been restored on the main facade: the destroyed opening framing section above the former restaurant entrance on the right has been restored.
In addition to the historical values that were saved and presented to new visitors, mechanically, a 21st-century building was born with heat pump cooling and heating, comfort ventilation, a staircase heat and smoke extraction system, and LED lighting.
Retaining the historicizing parts for the original purpose was fully achieved, in the case of some parts even exceeding the requirements of the monument regulations, and it seems that they have a good understanding of the requirements of modern space use. The house of the reborn Sasok mixes office and home office use, traditional office spaces are gracefully withdrawn in favor of communal spaces, such as the elongated dining room next to the ballroom ("Le Cru" room) or the street front cafe, which is also included as a new function. In addition to conveying architectural and aesthetic values, the building, which is beginning its new life, will soon be the home of an international company, and even the global audience can get to know it as a future filming location.
Renovation of the Irányi Palace
The original designer of the building: Lang Adolf and Antal Steinhardt, 1897
Architect lead designer: Tamás Tótszabó (Pyxis Nautica Építéziroda Kft)
Project lead architect: Ferenc Kis
Architect designers: Dávid Tóth, László Monori, Ágnes Péntek, Igor Valastyán
Interior designer: Pyxis Nautica
Investor: Máté Dobos (Optinvest Zrt)
Wooden doors and windows contractor: Ferenc Dobos (Favorit Kft)
Statistics: Zoltán Szabó (Muszasi Kft)
Fire protection: Rita Agócs, Ádám Kovács, Éva Lublóly
Building engineering: Gábor Kovács, Tamás Tirpák, Mátyás Koren (Prémium Épületgépész Kft)
Building electricity: Dávid Sándor (SDesign Electric Kft)
Building structure: Károly Nagy (Épszerkinfo Kft)
Art historian: Kristóf Kelecsényi
Contractor: EBH Invest Zrt.
Technical inspector: Péter Horváth, Zoltán Dóra, Krisztián Fodor (PHE Project Kft)
Level area (gross): 3500 m2