New residential building completed on Erkel Street 5 years after the demolition of the classicist building

Hungarian version of the article: Öt évvel az Erkel utcai klasszicista épület bontása után elkészült a helyén épült új lakóház

Written by: Gergely Flier

August 3, 2021 at 12:00 PM

Although during urban development it is often the case that some of the old buildings are demolished and replaced by new ones, it is very painful to lose a value that is unique or rare and to replace it with a building which has not got the same values, in addition, the more or less uniform street view is sacrificed as well. The new residential building was completed five years after the demolition of the classicist residential building at 18 Erkel Street in the 9th district. Pestbuda now shows the readers what it turned out to be.

Anyone who arrives at Erkel Street in Ferencváros from Üllői Road will be greeted by three memorial plaques at the beginning of the street: the first is a relief of Ferenc Erkel, the name-giver of the street. Above it is the memorial plaque of the predecessor of the Kisfaludy Society, the Auróra circle, which stayed in the still-standing former tenement house of the Károlyi family from the 1820s, and the relief memorial plaque on the other side of the street, marking János Arany's first apartment in Pest.

Former street view of Erkel Street to the left with the demolished No. 18 building (Photo: Google Streetview)

Fortunately, Erkel Street has preserved a lot of the atmosphere of the 19th century, and the list of monuments of the 9th District of Budapest in 2020 - which is available on the website of the Ferencváros Municipality - includes several buildings or facades, a total of fourteen. This is a very significant number in the street with a total of twenty-one houses, where the buildings of József Hild, Mihály Pollack and Miklós Ybl, among others, stand.

Demolition of the classicist house at 18 Erkel Street in April 2016 (Photo: Péter Bukovszki/pestbuda.hu)

Debris and ruins on the site of the house in April 2016 (Photo: Péter Bukovszki/pestbuda.hu)

Therefore, it was greatly outraged when the local protection of the typical classicist No. 18 building, built in the 1860s, was lifted in 2010, making it possible to demolish the house. This was done five years ago to replace the building sold by the Municipality in 2014 with a modern house built by a foreign investor. The demolition permit was issued for the building in the fall of 2015, after which work began on 29 February 2016 and was completed on 29 April.

18 Erkel Street in 1980 (Photo: Ferencváros Local History Collection)

The investment received a lot of criticism - Pestbuda also reported about it - because of the destruction of the unified street view. Unfortunately, it was not completely there before, as this is not the first new building on the section of Erkel Street between Üllői Road and Ráday Street: it has already stood a similar building almost opposite the 18 Erkel Street house. Attempts have been made to use older facade elements at that building, but the result does not really harmonise with the other buildings on the street.

In connection with the demolition, we can conclude that although Budapest does not abound in the classicist-romantic houses built in the middle of the 19th century as in the historicist and neo-renaissance buildings built later, these houses are not highly esteemed because several of them have been demolished recently. In Inner Ferencváros, there are several buildings built in this architectural style, it is enough to think about the Kálvin Square Reformed church, some older buildings on Kálvin Square and Üllői Road, the building on the corner of Lónyay Street and Gönczy Pál Street or 26 Lónyay Street house with several courtyards, that have recently been endangered.

Now that the scaffolding has been removed from the new residential building built on the site of the old house on Erkel Street, look at why they had to get rid of this value.

The new building at 18 Erkel Street in the 9th District (Photo: Gergely Flier/pestbuda.hu)

The spectacular asymmetry and protruding French balconies of the building, which the investor named Erkel Residences, undoubtedly contrasts strongly with the image of the street, but at the same time, the silhouette of the demolished classicist building appears on the recessed lines of the building’s facade.

The silhouette of the classicist building that was demolished in 2016 appears on the facade of the building. (Photo: Gergely Flier/pestbuda.hu)

In terms of details, the building is a 78-apartment 8-storey residential building with an underground garage below. According to the investor's website, "it is an ideal choice for those who like a vibrant life but also do not want to give up the cosy neighbourhood." It is a great pity that this atmosphere has just been eroded by the building in question.

Erkel Street in the 9th District from Üllői Road nowadays (Photo: Gergely Flier/pestbuda.hu)

Although now citizens have to get used to Erkel Street in this form, it would be welcome if the desire to demolish the classicist and historicist buildings in Budapest recently would finally subside, because, with every demolished old building, the city loses value, and the unified cityscape of Budapest is damaged. 

Cover photo: The new building at 18 Erkel Street in the 9th District nowadays (Photo: Gergely Flier/pestbuda.hu)


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