Transformation of a 100-year-old fruit storage building
Once built as a fruit storage house of the rocks extracted from its garden, the building was later enlarged with an open archway and used as a weekend house. When Orsi and Viktor first stepped into the garden, it had been deserted for years. Everybody was sure the building must be demolished. And yet they knew immediately that their quest for a new home was over.
As a significant amount of the physical work had to be performed by them – partly because of their limited budget, partly because it's almost impossible to find a decent building contractor in Hungary – it took them nearly 4 years to finish the reconstruction and finally move in.
Ever since their relatives and friends keep coming to visit and ask them what they love most in their new home. They realized that beyond having a beautiful house and garden, this journey gave back their trust in people. In their former life, they felt completely isolated in a seemingly uninterested society. They say that then they unexpectedly met a handful of amazing people in the biggest need, who took care of them and helped them so much, and who are still part of their life. Thanks to these new friends and the local neighborhood, an extremely inclusive community, they feel that they finally belong somewhere.
When we first entered the house, we immediately realized that there was such potential in the long-evolved spatial structure that must not be lost. The owners also felt that the previous architects' plan didn't resonate with these values, so despite their dire financial straits, they asked us to redesign it - naturally on a limited budget. Accordingly, instead of creating a complete architectural documentation, we designed a vision about the possibilities of salvage through a floor plan, two section plans and a few visualizations. However, it was their effort that this quality of implementation had been achieved. Meanwhile, as a friend, Dr Dezső Hegyi - head of Dept. of Mechanics, Materials and Structures at Budapest University of Technology and Economics - supported the whole process with structural directions. László Hernádi, Managing Director at Foorst manufacturing the windows and openings, also handled the project with special care. And as our construction was going on simultaneously in Szentendre; we could be present and provide an architectural overview on a friendly basis.
The existing capabilities of the space met all the needs of Orsi, Viktor and their dog, Zara. Due to its size and central position, the original stone fruit storage building became the main living zone, including the living room and the dining area. At the same time, the narrow "archway" provides space for the other additional functions of the house, but not in a subordinate relationship. As well as the openings in the original walls, the flow of the spatial units is also strengthened by the continuous concrete floor poured in situ, with an elevated design that derives from the original levels of the house. Like the upper level, the open space above the inner core is structured by the extant, recently discovered, considerably unusual trussed roof construction made of hollow structural section profiles. The thermal insulation of the building seals on the outside, framing the arches with rectangular windows, preserving its peculiar atmosphere from the inside. We should summarize what makes this project special; almost nothing has been added to the original structure to develop it; only the futile details have been removed.