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It is a contemporary successor to the villa that was saved from its ruins

The former Heller villa on Svábhegy has almost fallen into ruins, but during the renovation project, not only the building and its values are saved, but a contemporary residential building that initiates a dialogue with it is also built. The concept design of Pyxis Nautica is presented by Tamás Tótszabó, one of the founders of our office.


The former Heller villa is saved from destruction at the last moment, which is an invaluable gesture, after all, the building is special in addition to its own values because it is an almost exact copy of the Diescher villa on the neighboring plot, which has, however, been rebuilt beyond recognition. . While the "predecessor" was designed by József Diescher, one of the defining architects and builders of the 19th century, our building was designed by his son, Albert Diescher, at the request of Gábor Heller. József Diescher's building will live on in the "copy", but this is far from the only interesting feature of the project. (You can read about the history of the former Heller villa in this post.)< /p>



This is the current project of a young investor who started with condominiums in Siófok and then wanted to deal with a larger task in Budapest. Several years ago, he found the plot for sale, with the dilapidated house on it, and in addition to the intention to renovate, he also discovered that the plot could still be built on, an extra building could be built," outlined Tamás. So our office received the program ready, and now we are working with the young investor for the first time.


It is no exaggeration to speak of a dilapidated condition. On the first field inspection, Tamás was greeted by a shocking sight: "there was this originally beautiful classicist building, with a cracked roof, torn ceiling beams, fallen Doric columns, and inside there was a homeless person who had been carrying the garbage there for ten years - you can imagine how it looked from within. The picture was further colored by the fact that someone once started an expansion, roughly at the beginning of the 2000s. He started building the foundations of a pool and a garage, completely illegally. Since he was building without a permit, the authority stopped this work, and several years of litigation followed, but the owner did not demolish the additions that had begun. The vinegar tree has already grown out of the reinforced concrete. The investor bought the plot in this jungle state.



The planning started, but it was much more difficult to find out who would give permission: "On the one hand, there is the XII. district, but it is also an area of historical significance, so it is no longer supervised by the district, but by a separate government office. So it was not clear who approves the reconstruction of the villa building and who gives permission for the new building.


A Value protection documentation has been prepared, compiled by the permanent assistant of Pyxis Nautica, art historian Kristóf Kelecsényi and his team. This helped me imagine what the original building looked like, what valuable parts should be kept, and what could be changed. "But there was already a documentation, which the XII. district was made after someone wanted to demolish the building. The documentation stated that this was a valuable building, so the municipality did not allow it to be demolished, but neither did it allow it to be seriously rebuilt.



So the program was given: we will keep the building, renovate it, touch it as sensitively as possible, and build next to it.


Regarding the renovation, however, the determination of the Value Protection documentation is not binding: "There are no set rules, you have to feel what the values of such a building are. In our case, the proportions and dimensions of the windows and doors, the decorations, the framing sections, eaves sections, the shape and proportion of the roof, and also materials that do not differ from the original, which could have been used for up to 120 years: wood, plaster, tiles, stone , glass.”


In other words, the contents of the document are combined with Pyxis' architectural experience, vision, and intuition, but all of this is then checked by the heritage protection office and the building authority, so it goes through another strong filter before receiving all permits.



For the time being, it is still pending whether we will create one or two apartments in the former Heller villa. According to the investor's original idea, two apartments would have been created on the ground floor and a third in the attic. "But here, with the whole program, we had to go to XII. to the district planning council, where we have been several times, and for the fourth time they accepted our concept for both buildings - remembered Tamás. - They said that since it was a villa building, it would be good if it continued to operate as a residential unit, despite the fact that it was divided into four-apartment condominiums at the waist of socialism. The investor did not want to maintain this state of affairs, but the single-apartment concept may not have been financed. This is how the compromise was born: the independent attic installation was not allowed, but it was allowed to divide the building into two apartments with an apartment separation wall, there was a right and a left-hand ground floor + attic apartment with a basement, the left-hand one has the entire portico. This is not as generous as if it were a single-family house, but it is the remaining "B" plan, that is, if the investor finds a buyer who can buy it on his own, then the renovation will be done accordingly.


We also modified the new building based on what was said in the planning council until it was accepted by the board of architects of a high standard. "The first versions were not so good - Tamás admits - the plan was constantly evolving, and by the time it was accepted, a good mass had formed, which juts out a little parallel to the plot boundary, slightly out of the plane of the main building, but if you look at it from the garden , then rhymes with the portico of the villa: the proportions (width, height, distance) of the four pillars are exactly the same as those of the portico of the main building, and they also use the same materials. There is no set recipe, we had to experiment with a new building, which nevertheless refers to the old one. I think it was successful, because if the original building hadn't been there, a new building with a completely different shape and position would have been placed on the site.



Under the new building, we placed the required amount of parking in an underground garage, so cars do not spoil the view either. The existing basement of the villa building will be reused as a wellness and wine cellar.


The project as a whole is extremely exciting, even with its constraints, we experienced this very hard in the office, because "at the beginning it was not clear whether we needed a permit plan or a notification plan or a heritage protection permit, and the authorities were always asking for something else. invented. The notification plan was prepared for the new building, but also the permit plan, the permit plan was also prepared for the villa building, and the heritage protection plan, and the construction plan, while the planning councils came to criticize it architecturally, and in the meantime, a lot of parameters had to be constantly monitored (level area index, parking). It wasn't even creating the architectural character that was difficult, but complying with the bulky rule and getting everything through the bureaucracy.


What can be expected now, how is the project progressing? "The illegally added parts have already been demolished, the things that do not require a permit (garbage removal, weeding) have already taken place, now the project is waiting for the investor to agree with a contractor, and in the meantime he is also looking for a buyer to decide: the one- or two-apartment version according to which we will reconstruct the villa.

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