At the 2nd Debrecen Heritage and History Conference, the Cívis House of the Year” Award was presented at the Déri Museum on 18th of September 2023.

Mayor of Debrecen László Papp recalled that in May this year, the General Assembly established the Cívis House of the Year” Award to reward those who are at the forefront of the preservation of the architectural heritage of the city.

As he said, Debrecen is going through a period of very significant development, and this period is intensifying efforts to ensure that change does not take place in such a way that the city loses the architectural character and values that our Cívis ancestors have created over the centuries and which still define Debrecen’s architecture today.

The mayor pointed out that the Second World War and the post-war period have significantly redefined Debrecen’s architectural character. As part of this process, large housing estates were built, and the enclosures – Újkert, Vénkert, Dobozikert – are now enclosures in name only.

He noted that in the second half of the 1990s and in the 2000s, a big wave of condominium construction started, which the old town did not escape either. “Many buildings were built there that should not be there, and we can no longer speak of the old town in the classical sense of the word. These developments have made us even more determined that when Debrecen is hit by a new wave of economic development, it should not end up with only a trace of its original character.”

At the moment, 280 buildings are under local protection, but in addition to the 131 listed buildings, we would like to further expand this number and stabilise the significance and survival of the Cívis houses in this city.

“With the support of the association, we would like to extend local protection to a further 70 properties that we consider to be important guardians of Debrecen’s architecture. Local protection also implies a restriction, which will be primarily imposed on the owner. To hide 21st-century technology in an old building is a serious challenge. The process of renovating the Csokonai Theatre has shown how difficult it is to renovate a listed building in such a way that it can serve the needs of the modern theatre profession without altering its architectural value. It is a great tribute to the property owners who approach such a building in a way that respects the architectural traditions of the city,” the mayor stressed.

He said when this award was created, the aim was to show who is leading by example and who can bring together past, present and future.

László Papp said that from next year, they plan to develop a support system that will make the renovation of locally protected buildings a little more favourable in the form of city support. “The city is clearly committed to preserving architectural heritage, and we are taking serious steps to this end. One proof of this is the complete renovation of the Csokonai National Theatre, and another is the renovation of the Old Town Hall,” he underlined.

The award was presented by Mayor László Papp and Chief Architect István Gábor to the owners of the winning properties.

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Of the properties nominated, the residential building at 51 Szepességi Street deserved the 2023  “Cívis House of the Year” Award

The building reflects the architectural tradition of Debrecen in its façade proportions and massing, and the building has historical and architectural values. Prior to the renovation, a full building survey was carried out, during which painted walls were found.Following the survey, the exemplary value of the restoration can be seen in all parts of the building, especially in the restored arch of the doorway and in the patchwork of wall paintings, which could be retained to allow for full excavation and conservation in the future. The replacement of individual elements has been done with a view to preserving character, using contemporary tools and materials to highlight details and historic values worthy of protection. Given that the aim of the renovation was to achieve a significant utility value, the building reflects today’s needs.

The building has been renovated while maintaining its existing quality of use and intensity of development so that the otherwise underused garden has not been encumbered by additional development and has been renewed as an active green space.

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 colouring match the external form in an exemplary manner; however, in the garden structure of its equipment it is slightly separated from the internal architectural characteristics.

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.

Source and photo credit: debrecen.hu

Author: Debrecen4U