The details were announced at a press conference by Mayor László Papp, Chief Architect István Gábor and Municipal Councillor Sándor Nagy on 23rd May 2023.

The intention to establish the “Cívis House of the Year Award” was announced at the April session of the city’s General Assembly, and the members of the Assembly will decide on the establishment of the award at the 25th May General Assembly, Mayor of Debrecen László Papp said. 

He continued, stating that Debrecen is in a very intense phase of development and transformation, and during this period, the protection of its built heritage is becoming more and more important. This type of economic development has already taken place at various times in the city’s history – for example, at the end of the 19th century, during the period of Imre Simonffy’s mayoralty, and later in the 1960s and 1970s – and now, the years 2010-2020 are also a period of very intense transformation for the city. It, therefore, makes sense to place great emphasis on the protection of the built heritage. At the moment, there are 131 buildings in the city under monumental protection and 281 under local protection. 

In cooperation with the Debrecen Urban Conservation and Beautification Association, an 8,000-page document has been prepared, which tells the history of the remaining local (cívis) houses and explains their architectural significance. The city’s chief architect’s office, together with the Association for the Protection of the City, is carrying out a conservation procedure for 270 buildings in order to have them declared locally protected buildings. According to László Papp, the city is taking a responsible approach to this issue and is trying to protect those buildings that deserve it. The municipality is very actively involved in the protection of the built heritage with development funds and investments; for example, the Csokonai Theatre building will soon be completely renovated and will be back in the service of culture, and the renovation of the historic Town Hall building is also underway. 

The mayor stressed that they would like to encourage the people of Debrecen to renovate, maintain, improve and preserve for the future the buildings they own, which are part of the city’s architectural heritage, with a similar approach.

The planned “Cívis House of the Year Award” competition aims to reward “old residential buildings of a character that contributes to the historical image of the city and strengthens its civic identity, which, through their architectural and land use quality, ensure the cultural provision of everyday use and exemplary townscape and streetscape appearance, while ensuring the use of buildings that meet modern needs, including the planned use of renewable energies. 

A major challenge is how to renovate and transform buildings 100-150 years old or older in a way that preserves their original architectural character.

It is envisaged that a property owner or occupier who has converted, renovated or maintained a building with a character of a “Cívis House of the Year”, i.e. who has made a material investment in the property while preserving its architectural values, can apply for the award. 

Only residential buildings – at least 50 percent of which are residential – are eligible. 

An application form will have to be completed and submitted to the city’s chief architect, who will be the technical officer in charge of the application. The winners will be proposed by the Assembly’s Committee for the Environment and Urban Development. Applications will be accepted until 31st July each year, after which a decision will be taken. Two Civic House of the Year awards will be given each year, accompanied by a plaque and a certificate of honour.

László Papp cited as a good example the renovation of the former Angol Királynő Hotel on the corner of Kossuth and Batthyány streets, which is now a non-residential building whose owner has given the building a wonderful new look. Fortunately, there are many more examples like this in the city, so it is even worth considering having a category for non-residential buildings. The mayor stressed that the municipality would like to give a boost to the protection of the townhouses.

According to István Gábor, the city’s chief architect, the city is working to ensure that as many buildings and streetscapes as possible are renovated and that Debrecen continues to carry on its historical values. Good examples can encourage the population to join forces and help beautify and renew the townscape.

According to Sándor Nagy, a local government representative, it feels natural that Debrecen is becoming more beautiful every day and even developing to such an extent that people who come here hardly recognise the city from their past memories. The local regulations, the town’s landmark handbook and the announcement of the “Cívis House of the Year” competition are all contributing to Debrecen becoming one of the most beautiful towns in the country.

Source: debrecen.hu

Author: Debrecen4U