The very first work of Pyxis Nautica required youthful determination and perseverance, in return the tenants of the Deák tér building can now look at the meticulously renovated doorway as an extension of their homes or offices. László Monori, one of the founders of Pyxis, talks about the details of the transformation.
One of the few buildings with a Jugendstil facade in Budapest is the Modern and Breitner commercial and residential building, which was named after the builders - Alfréd Stern, Modern Lőrinc and L. Zsigmond Breitner - after the handover in 1912. The six-story Art Nouveau building is located in the center of the city, on Deák Square, and used to house several well-known artists (painters Béla Iványi Grünwald, Jenő Medvecky and János Kmetty, tapestry artist Noémi Ferenczy). However, the doorway created in the 60s looked just like most of the things left here from the 60s until recently. In other words, it needed a thorough transformation.
This became Pyxis Nautica's number one project, its absolute first work.
It all started with a residential meeting. Condominium general meetings are not known for easy conversations and good-natured compromises, so it's a big deal that the idea that the bottom of the door should be dealt with was born in the community. As Laci puts it: "Surprisingly, even the idea of not only painting it, but also having an interior designer work on it, was an undivided success.
The matter was helped by the fact that several of the owners have prestigious offices in the building, typically lawyers' offices, because despite the fact that they live in a beautiful place and work in a beautiful office, the broken-down front door spoiled the important moments of their arrival. In accordance with the rules, the apartment building asked for proposals from several interior designers, and in the end Pyxis was the winner.
He followed through on the idea, and it soon became clear that everything in an apartment building is not that simple after all. Some of the residents wanted a marble covering with historicizing elements, others would have been happy with some low-budget solution, and "we were the ones who tried to bring it all together: with contemporary tools, but treating this historic building in its place".
There are very few buildings in the Jugendstil style in Hungary, in our country this trend moved in a completely different direction with the Art Nouveau. However, the designers of the Deák tér house, Sámuel Révész and József Kollár, were influenced by the contemporary German design language, which is how this building was created. The gate itself, opening from Deák Ferenc Street (or Fashion Street), was created in the 60s, when the apartments in the house were torn down. Before the current renovation, visitors were greeted by rickety electrical distribution cabinets, hanging cables, and the cabinets of the former telephone exchange, recently used as dust collectors - it is understandable if the lawyers and residents were not fans of it.
But how was this space brought into harmony with the Jugendstil facade of the building?
The goal was to create a contemporary interior that discreetly fits the character of the house, taking into account the need for usability and easy maintenance. However, it was a bumpy road to the realization, and at times they had to make smart compromises: "In the first instance, we took seriously the need for it to be made of marble, but it's a very impractical material: it's expensive, and if it's not treated properly, it absorbs all the dirt. The price quote for the first marble concept was around 35-40 million, and the renovation was finally completed for a fraction of that.
Several offers were made by the time the prices met reality, and it was not easy to convey at the general meetings why this could not be a historicizing interior, why it would count as a lie in 2018. In the meantime, the residents also had their say, it was said that "this is now a prison", yet there were those who would have installed bars everywhere, because several companies also use the section as an industrial entrance. In other words, to make the formula a little more complicated, the space is subject to heavy use.
Controversies of taste, budget constraints, and complex usage requirements made planning difficult, but then came the project's own superhero, Tímea, a "common representative who had recovered enough", who steered the matter towards a solution at the general meetings.
Since it is a very small space, we tried to think of everything down to the smallest details, even the revision door handles." The construction itself was almost a routine job after that.
The narrow, corridor-like doorway connects the exit to the street and the courtyard, and is connected to the staircase from the side, and a storage room also opens from it. The zigzag space was simplified as much as possible with a false ceiling, straightening the walls, built-in wardrobe doors and mailboxes, hiding all the electrical equipment. The end result was a calm, easily understandable space.
The narrow space required light coverings. The warm gray terrazzo floor and the ceramic wall covering with a watercolor-like marble pattern are decisive, as well as the light warm gray shade of the mailboxes, the new courtyard gate, the new grille and the wall covering the electrical cabinets. The lighting is provided by art deco wall arms and pendants inspired by the age of the original building, an LED profile lamp connected to a twilight switch, recessed into the false ceiling, and hidden LED strips washing the plinths. The elegance of the dominant light gray is perfectly complemented by brass elements: the plinth, the bulletin board, the company sign, the insert for the door pulls, and the metal fittings of the lighting fixtures also rhyme with this.
In contrast to other interior design projects, here it was not necessary to adapt to the needs of a client, but to the needs of the community, perhaps the real challenge can be summed up plastically. Based on the feedback, the residents are satisfied with the final result, they are only a little worried about the overuse of the service, how long the gate will remain like this, which for the time being is "withstanding the training well".
It may be a small space, and the renovation was not cheap, but we can even call it an investment, after all, the value of each apartment increased by two to three percent, which more than covers the initial cost cost, and for high-prestige offices in the building, it is particularly important where the client arrives. And, of course, there is a value that cannot be expressed in money: the feeling that the residents have when they arrive home every day, through a room that they can easily consider an extension of their home.