Hungarian Industrial Association HQ
Budapest, Thököly út 58-60.
One of the few brutalist-like building in Budapest with a polite raw concrete facade and amazing details inside.
When people says, they hate socmodern/latemodern buildings, usually they have a problem with their run-down state, or the more conservative ones criticize how the “socialist” buildings and architects were competing with previous era’s heritage – they wanted to build a higher concrete tower than the church’s tower, or dominate the city-scape. And yes, sometimes they are right, in the name of the new regime they felt necessary to overpower the „old bourgeois” past – but for all the critics and haters its time to show them this gentle concrete monstre.
It’s a rare specimen – more or less, in- and outside too it is preserved in the original state, and it was well maintained and cared. (And well documented too).
The OKISZ HQ is located in a part of Zugló’s neighborhood which was very popular among the upper-class and rich bourgeoise – they build their eclectic and art nouveau villas here. And next to this site, beside the villas there is a neo-Gothic Church too. The first plan (by Dezső Dúl) was following the era’s popular errand – a vertical tower and a horizontal base, but luckily when János Mónus got the task, he designed a totally new building.
The greatest virtue of the building is the perfect harmony between its structure, form and the used technology.
Mónus kept the building in fair distence from the church and the Thököly road too, and he pulled back the facade more and more with every stories – creating a cascading absolutely not imposing look. It wasn’t his intent to design a brutalist building – even the style was popular from the 50’s not just the western world, but in the Soviet-block to.
WHAT THE HECK IS BRUTALISM: If you never heard about it, then check out the article on My Modern MET.
“It would have been rude by the architectural etiquette to compete with any surrounding buildings, but it was necessary, to build a stylish and unique HQ as a sort of reference building, because it was supposed to be the head office of the industrial cooperatives of the country. So people suppose the quality of our work will be the same as the standard of this place.”(Népszabadság, 1984 július 21.: Szép házak dicsérete)
Entering the building we instantly notice the high quality of the used materials – marble, teak and ashwood panels on the wall, and the smaller fine details too. My favourite one is the staircase – the bringt orange colour and the curved chrome parts. But the great auditorium is more or less well preserved, the chairs with the optionally opening tables is a clever idea.
Oh and the best part – a still functioning paternoster elevator. It neves stops, just going round and round in circles, as the rosary in the hand of the monks. So of course we made a full round, down to the superdark basement and up to the engine room.
And as the last stop, we visited the rooftop for some concrete caress.
Actually the tour organized by the Contemporary Architecture Center is part of the “Othernity” programs, which is the Hungarian Pavilion of the International Architecture Biennale in 2021. The pavilion invited 12 young and emerging architectural studios and practices from Central and Eastern Europe to recondition 12 socialist modernist buildings from Budapest – the OKISZ HQ is one of them and it will be rethought by the estonian b210 architecture office.