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Serving the community instead of overbuilding

Catholic community building in Balatonszőlős.

The superior of Tihany Benedictine Abbey, Norbert Jeromos Mihályi, i.e. Father Jeromos, entrusted our office with the design of a small Catholic community building, next to the church in Balatonszőlős, of which he is the spiritual servant and head of the parish.

Father Jeromos is a Benedictine monk from Tihany, who was elected by the monks as their leader, and he is not an abbot only because there are no twelve. As a manager, he decides on the projects, what they bid for, what improvements would be implemented, and he bids for architects and suppliers. We have previously worked together on the interior design of the student hostel next to Tihany Abbey.

This time, he came up with modest demands: he asked for a small house with a communal space, i.e. a "cake shop", where the congregation can still be together after mass or at independent events. The building includes a washroom, plus a separate sacristy room - with its own washroom with shower - for the priest's preparations, and where the priest can even sleep. Bivouac accommodation is being built above the water block. And that's all.

It was an architectural requirement that the house fit the Szźz Mária Neve church on the plot. The church as a mass and its external features determined our design approach. We tried to achieve this by using similar materials: brick wall, wooden carpentry structure, white plaster, brown slate roof. For the brown slate roof, we were very happy to find tin of the same color for the gutter and gable wall coverings. The doors and windows are made of wood by a local specialist, as is the carpentry work by a church member. The technical inspector is the highly experienced Ther Antal, also from the area.

With the installation of the new building, we made sure that it did not take away the "light" of the church: the church is located in the middle of the plot at the front, the community building recedes to the back corner. In exchange for discretion, the side wall takes up the line of the plot boundary, which forms an angle with the ridge, thus turning into a playfully asymmetrical mass.

The "pastry" room itself can be compared to a kitchen-dining room: the faithful can sit around a large table, in summer the large, three-wing accordion door can be opened, so the interior space is expanded with a terrace.

From a top view, the fit can be seen almost literally: the two buildings could even be fitted together like two pieces of a puzzle. At the same time, in adapting to the shape of the church, we started from the high roof, but, as Tamás Tótszabó says, "perhaps we wanted to introduce a little game for our own entertainment, so that it is not just a simple, gabled, classic house-shaped mass, but something that responds more to the plot boundary. The L-shaped, slanted shape comes from the rear, block-closing shape." The gradual rise of the lower plane of the roof is thus given by the geometry (the ridge is not parallel to the plot boundary, but forms an even-degree angle with it, because of this the plot boundary is constantly cut off from the pitched roof), but the line stretching towards the sky can be interpreted as a subtle sacral allusion.< /p>

In order to install the building, the stone cross from the middle of the 20th century had to be moved away, which was not a problem for the locals - the father was even happy about it, because it was closer to the main road - but the construction was all the more difficult. They were afraid that the cross would break, so they removed it carefully, taking it into several pieces, and in its new place, it received a fresh, stronger foundation. Until now, there was no water and sewer connection, so that had to be taken care of

But what was it like to design a well-meaning puritan building after such complex works as the Telekom flagship store or the conversion of the former Sasok house?

Personally, I really like to design church-related, puritanical things, because often the client would overdecorate and overbuild the house, while the church client does not measure in terms of material values, but only wants to provide a place for human encounters, and is satisfied if it is completely it is created in a simple way, by fulfilling the minimum conditions - continues Tamás. - These are always good jobs, because our ideas are welcomed, there are no exaggerated expectations, on the other hand, we have to pay close attention to the costs, because all church projects have to fit into the budget.

There is no false ceiling in the communal space, the ceiling height is relatively high, so anyone who enters it is greeted by a sense of space that belies the dimensions of the small building. This also made it suitable for placing a boarded-up inter-level floor above the water blocks, which can be climbed up by a ladder and can function as a kind of bivouac accommodation, believers and pilgrims can even sleep there.

The building was handed over and consecrated in March this year with the blessing of Father Jeromos and Archbishop György Udvardy of Veszprém.

Catholic community center, BalatonszőlősArchitecture: Pyxis Nautica

Year of design: 2019Year of construction: 2021

Gross floor area: 38.29 m2

Premises: community space, vestibule, toilet, bathroom, sacristy, attic

Photo: Bálint Jaksa

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