Our Heritage Debrecen II. at a local history conference, the Civil House of the Year award was presented at the Déri Museum on September 18, 2023.
Mayor László Papp recalled that in May of this year, with the intention of creating a tradition, the General Assembly launched the Cívis House of the Year award, the purpose of which is to reward those who are at the forefront of preserving Cívis’ architectural heritage.
As he said, Debrecen’s everyday life is characterized by a very significant development, and this period reinforces the efforts to ensure that the change does not take place in such a way that the city loses its architectural character and value system, which our civic predecessors created over centuries and which is still decisive today. Regarding the architecture of Debrecen.
The city manager pointed out that II. World War II and the period after the regime change significantly redrawn the architectural character of Debrecen. As part of this, large housing estates were formed, and the gardens – Újkert, Vénkert, Dobozikert – are now gardens in name only. He noted that in the second half of the 1990s and the 2000s, a large wave of condominium construction began, which the old town did not survive. “Many buildings were placed there that had no place there, and we can no longer speak of an old town in the classical sense of the word.” These processes strengthened our intention even more that when Debrecen is hit by another wave of economic development, it should not be in such a way that the civic character is only visible in traces – he emphasized.
As he said, they decided that they would like to expand the range of locally protected buildings with regulatory tools, as part of which they started serious work under the professional guidance of the Debrecen Urban Protection and Beautification Association with the cooperation of the city’s chief architect. – At the moment, 280 buildings are under local protection, but we want to further expand this, in addition to the 131 buildings under monument protection, to stabilize the significance and preservation of civil houses in this city. With the support of the association, we would like to extend the local protection to another 70 properties, which we consider to be important preservers of the architecture of Debrecen. Local protection also means a limitation, which is formulated primarily in relation to the owner. Hiding 21st-century technology in an old building is a serious challenge. The process of renovating the Csokonai Theater showed how difficult it is to renovate a listed building in such a way that it can serve the needs of the modern theater profession, but its architectural value is not transformed. Great recognition goes to those property owners who touch such a building in such a way that they respect the city’s architectural traditions, emphasized the city manager.
As he put it: when this award was created, they set themselves the goal of showing who are those who set a good example and are able to bring the past, the present, and the future together.
László Papp said that starting next year, they plan to create a support system that will make the renovation of locally protected buildings a little more favorable in the form of city support. – The city is clearly committed to the preservation of architectural heritage, and we are taking serious steps for it. One proof of this is the building of the Csokonai National Theatre, which has been fully renovated, and the other is the renovation of the Old Town Hall building, he underlined.
Mayor László Papp and chief architect István Gábor presented the award to the owners of the award-winning property.
More about the building:
Among the applicant properties, the residential building at Szepességi utca 51 earned the Cívis House of the Year award in 2023.
“The building reflects the architectural traditions of Debrecen in its façade proportions and mass, the building carries historical and architectural values. Before the renovation, a full-scale search of the building was carried out, during which painted walls were found, after the search, the exemplary nature of the restoration can be seen in action in all parts of the building, especially in the renovated vault of the gate entrance, and in the details of the wall paintings that have been uncovered in patches, so by keeping them, it will be possible to fully uncover them in the future, and for conservation. During the replacement of the individual elements, the protection of the character was kept in mind, with contemporary tools and the use of materials, they tried to highlight the details and historical values worthy of protection. Given that the aim of the renovation was to achieve significant use value, the building certainly reflects today’s use needs.
During the renovation, the building was renovated while maintaining the quality of land use and built-in intensity, so that the garden, which otherwise lacks land, was not burdened with additional construction, it was renovated as an active green area. By maintaining the character and mass proportions of the building at the time of its original construction, it ensures an exemplary fit into the streetscape, and with the quality of its land use, it fits the depth of the installation. In the interior design of the building, their proportions, functional use, and coloring match the external form in an exemplary manner, however, in the garden structure of its equipment, it is slightly separated from the internal architectural properties.
The use of land and buildings specifically takes into account the scale of today’s family house and the features of the building. The modern cooling-heating system and the heat-dissipating surfaces built into the structure ensure efficient and comfortable living, with low emissions. The dark character of the shell alone does not serve to protect against summer heat stress. The interior details and spatial arrangements are especially valuable, together with the excavated contemporary surface formations and the preserved and raw brick surfaces, it contains solutions with a contemporary approach.”
(Debrecen City Hall)