Page D1.1 . 31 July 2002                     
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    Fresh Look in Budapest

    by József Martinkó

    When I sat down to write about the architectural characteristics of the new Lehel Tér market, I was convinced of only two things. On one hand, I was delighted to finally see a kind of architecture that offers a comprehensive intellectual adventure on this otherwise increasingly boring Budapest street.

    On the other hand, I had to confront a serious dilemma, because everyone I spoke with approached the building with confusion, indignation, and perplexity. This would not constitute a problem, if I didn't happen to like the building so much.

    The Lehel Tér market, which opened in February, 2002, was designed by László Rajk, principal of the Koztigon Architects' Studio Ltd. What causes the most trouble to the beholder is that this type of architectural approach, though rooted in 20th century Hungarian art, has failed to become an integral part of everyday architectural language in Hungary.

    It was left out of the discourse that had produced the canon of architecture in use today. This is principally because Hungarian constructivist architecture has never produced edifices of lasting architectural value. So the prime consumer of architecture, the profession, has never embraced constructivism, and it is not included in any university curriculum. All in all, it has remained an isolated bubble — abstract, experimental, and virtual.

    A Stylistic History

    There was indeed a moment when a trend in Hungarian architecture seemed likely to become a bridge to link the greatest representatives of early 1920s Soviet/Russian architectural constructivism with the "star" constructivists of today, such as Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Lehel Tér market in Budapest, by László Rajk, principal of the Koztigon Architects' Studio Ltd.
    Photo: Lenke Szilagyi

    ArchWeek Image

    Inside the Lehel Tér market.
    Photo: Gabor Demszky

     

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