Construction of Gazdagrét confirmed 40 years ago

Hungarian version of the article: Gazdagrét felépítéséről 40 éve döntöttek véglegesen

Written by: Csaba Domonkos

March 10, 2021 at 9:00 AM

Gazdagrét is unique among the housing estates in Budapest. Located in the Buda hills, the area has clear borders and remains a popular place to live today. A popular soap opera followed its life for years.

In March 1981, the leadership of the capital decided to construct the Gazdagrét housing estate. On 12 March 1981, Magyar Nemzet wrote:

“According to the development plans approved by the Budapest Council's executive committee on Wednesday, almost 1,300 apartments will be built in the first phase and completed by 1988. On average, their floor area will be 53 square metres. Most flats will have two and a half rooms, but larger ones will also be created. The buildings will be of different heights: the number of floors will decrease gradually towards the edges of the housing estate. Eleven-storey houses will be built in its centre, and seven-storey structures on its edges.”

Other plans included constructing two schools, a nursery school and two crèches, and a pharmacy. The first flats in the area were to be completed by 1983. The total cost of the investment was set at 4 billion HUF.

Gazdagrét in 1990 (photo: Fortepan/No.: 76271) 

Lakóterv prepared the plans of the housing estate under the leadership of Károly Jurcsik. The Győri Állami Építőipari Vállalat ('Győr State-owned Construction Company') began the work and was joined by the 43rd State-owned Construction Company later.

The area of the housing estate had previously been planted with orchards. In all, only 87 flats or houses were destroyed. The panel buildings were not built on the site of an existing residential area.

Nevertheless, the builders were surprised by graves found at a depth of 120 centimetres in Nevegy Street when earthworks began. Archaeological excavations revealed that the area contained Roman graves and the remains of a medieval settlement. However, no traces of a Roman settlement were found.

Naturally, plans for the incorporation of Gazdagrét were not made in the early 1980s. Building-up, the area, was first floated in the 1940s. In the 1970s, when pre-fabricated housing construction began, a tender was announced to construct Gazdagrét. Early ideas aimed to create a different kind of area, a less-dense population centre. However, in 1978, Lakóterv was tasked with designing a high-density housing district.

The plans were finalised in 1981 and approved by the Budapest Council in March 1981.

However, even then, not everyone was satisfied with the plans. On 16 November 1983, Magyar Nemzet published an article entitled: Poor Gazdagrét (Gazdagrét means Rich meadow in Hungarian  trans.):

“If the designers could have had a say, says the architect, than the terrain on the area, the valley would have led their hand. However, it quickly became clear what was important: eleven-storey buildings met the technical and economic requirements set out for the estate. If two floors were “removed”, the construction cost per flat would increase significantly. That is, according to current price estimates, the current designs are the cheapest to build.
(…)
Jurcsik has attempted to layout the houses in a way that most of them are set in the valley. He envisioned a five-hundred-apartment terraced structure for the southern slope, with floors sliding backwards to make something different.”

However, in the 1980s, money was the lord, and a scarcity of funds defined everything. The first flat was completed on 21 March 1984 at the beginning of Regős Street. It is an interesting coincidence or rather well-calculated idea that the first flat to be completed in the Gazdagrét housing estate was also the 200,000th district-heated home in the country.

Gazdagrét today (Photo: Balázs Both/Pestbuda.hu) 

The first building stood alone. Not even busses reached the area, as bus service was first extended to the housing estate on 1 May 1984, weeks later.

Even though many were saddened by the loss of the Buda orchards in the 1980s, today Gazdagrét is a definitive part of Budapest and possibly the most liked housing estate in the city.

Cover photo: The houses of Gazdagrét (Photo: Balázs Both/pestbuda.hu) 


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