The study is part of a greater research into church construction between 1945 and 1970. The revision of church building is based on researches in historical and ecclesiastic archives, contemporary press, works of local history and field investigations. It applies particularly to the period after World War II that political and social history determined the construction of churches (the permissions to acquire the sites, materials, plans and building permits). This requires a review of the special historical literature concerning the churches between 1945 and 1957, and the post-war building rules. The next section discusses the buildings until 1957. The considerable stock is studied from different art historical viewpoints than the churches of the previous ages. Historical periodicization has divided the studied period into three parts: the first major event affecting the material-spiritual bases of the churches was the land reform of 1945, the second was the law of 1948 to nationalize the denominational schools. It directly influenced the church organization and the life of the believers that the communist party set up a security police in 1945, and in 1946 the Ministry of the Interior created a Department of State Security. The constitutional role of the catholic church ceased with the Hungarian parliament declaring the country a republic in 1946. A law was also passed about the penal consequences of anti-republican propaganda and organization. With these legislative tools the state restricted the material power and intellectual influence of the catholic church, while its power agencies spread fear and existential uncertainty, poisoning the coherence of smaller groups. In the first phase of the period between 1946 and 1958, the catholic church was subdued and the total controlling mechanism of the dictatorship was built out until 1953. Though an agreement was concluded between the state and the Roman Catholic church in the years between 1946 and 1958, it had little practical outcome, the persecution of the churches going on. The monastic orders were suppressed with four exceptions (1950), the peace movement of the clergy working within the church organization for the approval of the regime was initiated (1950) and the State Office of Church Affairs was set up (1951). No change ensued in the official church policy in the period after Stalin's death until 1956, nor in the 1956–58 years. In terms of building history, two main phases can be differentiated in the post-war period. Though the paper concentrates on the first, it is necessary to review the characteristics of the second as well to justify the subdivision. The researches so-far have revealed that concent to constructions belonged to the jurisdiction of the church authorities and the local council's building departments between 1945 and 1958. The foundation of the State Office of Church Affairs did not automatically entail a change in the permitting process, but it could influence the allocation of state funds, hence the financial standing of the churches. Between 1958 and 1989 two resolutions were passed on church construction. In 1958 the Ministry of Constructions spelt out that the local Council could not issue a building permit to a church property unless it had received the approval of the Church Affairs Office. The Office had the right to decide on the approval of plans, allocation of state subsidies and acquisition of building materials. This practice was somewhat relaxed from 1970 and the chief county official in charge of church affairs could also issue permits up to a limit of 50 thousand forints. There was no considerable change in the financial resources of the church in this period but the Office used the allocation of extraordinary state allowances to manipulate the financial position and internal life of the churches. In the second part of the study the author looks closely into church architecture between 1945 and 1957. After describing the acquisition of site, plans, building materials and the raising of funds, she enumerates the church types. The 172 major documented constructions can be divided into five large groups (renovation with extention, completion, conversion, reconstruction and building a new church). Each group is illustrated with building histories and descriptions. The first group contains cases when a renewed church received some extension or tower. The second group comprises church constructions begun before or during the war and completed now. The third populous group contains existing buildings which were massively changed in a variety of ways, from interior redecoration to extensive rebuilding of the exterior before they were consecrated. The reconstructed churches include the ones that had to be built wholly or largely anew on the basis of available sources. A building history touches on location, formal solution (size, shape, relation to earlier destroyed church, etc.). Four examples illustrated the new constructions. The circumstances of permission and finances, and the formal features are discussed in detail. The research on the history and formal characteristics of the reconstructed and newly built churches has resulted in the confutation of some earlier theses of special literature. It is not true that new churches were only allowed to be built in place of old, perished or destroyed churches or school chapels. Nor is it true that the new edifice had to coincide with the layout of the earlier or demolished one in the same size. The closing section of the dissertation embarks on three approaches to church construction in the period between 1945 and 1957. One cites the catholic media concerning buildings, to show what language they used when they tried to persuade the readership to give donations or inform them of church consecrations. The other approach is that of the Hungarian art historical and ecclesiastical special literature concerned with church architecture. The author compares the formals stock of modernity, of major secular architecture, the aesthetic approach and the interplay between church architecture and liturgical revival with the corresponding trends in Western art history. At last the analysis of the buildings of the period ensues. Taking stock of the ground plans and architectonic elements and their frequency, the author concludes that the basic forms and decorative motifs of the romanesque, gothic and baroque styles appear in every building with varying frequency and stylization. Built with varying talent at planning and execution, the forms reveal the adherence of the clients to traditions; they must have deemed the church buildings to be suitable to express the “spiritual content”, the cohesion of the community in these forms. The so-far most thorough research of the building stock of the period has revealed that the period between 1945 and 1989 was not homogeneous. Different regulations and feasibility mark out different periods. The study of building histories has resulted in a colourful picture, although further research will certainly add more details to our knowledge of the interrelation between politics and local regulation. The degree to which a local church has been elaborated (research into the architecture of the settlement, predecents to the church, building history, formal relations with churches in nearby settlements, etc.) does not only show the coherence of the local community but also its attitude to traditions and innovations. Future investigations on the church architecture of the period should depend on the exploration of further sources and their elaboration with historical methods.
This study presents the pivotal moments in the history of anti-ecclesiastical politics and architectural legislation. Definitive factors in church construction projects, the obtaining of planning permissions, fundraising processes, the identities of designers and the possibilities of designing, the size and quality of building materials have been uncovered through researching archival sources and church media records from that period. Regarding the tendencies of architectural morphology, it is safe to say that where financial conditions made it possible, commissioners insisted on traditional solutions. Highly qualified architects with international experience, Lajos Tarai, Antal Thomas, and Bertalan Árkay, however, identified with the modern ecclesiastical art evolving mainly in 1920s Germany. The detailed introduction of Bertalan Árkay’s work provides us with an opportunity to describe Hungarian architectural practice (designing every detail of the building including its interior and the reasons behind the repeated use of certain shapes in the building material), most of which can also be found in the international architecture of the period.
The paper deals with school construction in Hungary between 1945 and 1964, with greater emphasis on type plans. First the factors influencing school planning and the plans themselves are introduced. From among the legal provisions and government measures, the orders on compulsory schooling determined the volume of constructions. The design of a school building is always influenced by building law regulations, fire protection, usage safety and sanitary prescriptions. They determine the positioning of the building, the size of classrooms and common rooms, their illumination and place within the building.
The beginning of state-ordered school construction goes back to 1777. The centrally ordered plans were always connected with educational reforms, also in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century as well as after World War II.
Each of the large planning companies initiated by the government after 1945 received a special architectural profile. School planning was the task of KÖZTI (Planning Office of Public Buildings), but owing to gaps in the bureaucratic regulations architects employed by other planning companies (Pécsterv, Mezőterv, Városterv, etc.) did also produce school plans in addition to KÖZTI architects. The same applies to TTI, the Type Planning Institute. The planning of school types began in 1949, but the use of types of different sizes and solutions was only compulsory in 1958 and 1964. Through the description of individual plans and realized buildings, the paper presents the different plan types which included a considerable number of original and high-quality designs. Even when type plans became compulsory, the number of schools built on individual plans did not decrease. Through the detailed description and scholarly analyses of several individual buildings, it can be confirmed that single plans did not decrease because their formal and technical solutions were attempts at the modernization of school planning. The author stresses that the successful plans were realized at several places, which might indicate that the original goal was the reproduction of the most up-to-date and economical models in large numbers. The leading architects who planned schools included Péter Reischl and István Kiss (type and individual plans), Kamill Kismarty-Lechner, István Brjeska, György Szrogh and Lajos Zalaváry. In their schools they applied the newest formal idiom of contemporary international school design (bilateral lighting with shifted floors, slanting half-gable roof over a complex building mass, surfaces faced with lasting natural materials, contemporary art works for decoration).
By way of a conclusion, the paper raises the possibility and need for the examination of school construction in the period from the viewpoints of building use, effects of schools and their role in the universal architectural history of the period.
Bertalan Árkay’s church in Budapest-Városmajor is the advent of modern Hungarian church architecture. He designed several churches after 1945, which are far less known or their evaluation is somewhat one-sided. This paper discusses the building history and surviving plan documentation of two of the fifteen churches built between 1945 and 1970. These churches are known to some extent from special literature.
To learn the building history of the churches of Hort and Taksony I studied the documents of the parishes and the State Office for Church Affairs, as well as the relevant articles in the ecclesiastic media of the time. I examined the Árkay estate in the Architectural Collection of the Kiscell Museum of the Budapest History Museum to find the plans. 27 plans of the Hort church – of them 11 of the furnishing – and 35 of Taksony (only the building) survive.
The historical inquiry reveals that while literature on ecclesiastic art registers both churches, art history only keeps tabs on the Taksony church. Experts on church art regard the Hort church as the continuation of pre-war modern architecture and judge the Taksony church as a formal experiment. Art historiography agrees that the Taksony church embodies a shift from the traditional church form.
The church in Hort has a nave and side aisles, with basilical lighting and a flat chancel termination. The decisive features of the façade of Mátra stone are the projecting nave section and the pair of hip roofed towers. Its previous church built in the 18th century was blown up by the Germans in 1944. The construction of the new one began in 1946. The parish priest, Father Imre Mahunka wanted to build a pilgrimage church, but his archbishop Gyula Czapik warned him of the post-war financial difficulties, urging him to have a smaller church built. They began building a culture home, hoping to raise money from its revenues to finance a new church. With the aggravation of the historical-political circumstances in 1947-48, the ongoing construction was modified for a church. Plans by Bertalan Árkay are known from 1947, and data of 1949 verify that he joined the construction. As a result of the cooperation of the local craftsmen Árkay supervised and the artisans (fitter, glazier, stone carver) he had brought from the capital as well as the local population, of their immense work and financial sacrifice, the church was consecrated in 1954. The other tower was built in 1957 and the church was completed in 1960. The history of construction testifies to Árkay’s practice as architect and site engineer: he entrusted all major work to master craftsmen he knew. The building history invalidates the conjectures that the church must have been built at the former’s place and in the same size, but without a tower.
The plans of the Hort church divide into four groups: dated 1947, dated 1949/50, undated, and furnishing plans. The plans of 1947 show the current state with minor alterations. The drawings of 1949 are architectural perspectives and detail drawings of the former. The undated sheets show the facade with more or less of the same overall mass as today, with different solutions in the details. The triple apertures up until the top quarter of the pair of towers can be found in all drawings, but in one the nave has a flat roof, the upper row of seven short and wide semicircular windows running from edge to edge. The top quarter of the towers displays four tiers of three thin and short semicircular windows in each tier.
Furnishing drawings belong to the altars, gate lattice, baptismal font and the collecting box. Several details of the church (ceiling, gate, pieces of equipment) were realized after other plans in the estate.
The complex mass of the Taksony church comprises a block on an elliptical floorplan covered with a shallow dome, a servicing section adjusted to the arc of the nave at a narrow side and opposite to it a tall prismatic entrance section on an oblong plan, divided vertically into three parts and attached to the nave with a passageway. Its earlier church was completed in 1811 but in WW2 it was badly damaged. Financial and historical difficulties prolonged its repairs until the winter of 1955, but the earthquake of January 1956 caused the dome to collapse and the church became unfit for use. Lots of houses and several churches in the vicinity were also seriously damaged, so a nationwide fund raising started also using the church and the catholic media for the rebuilding of the Taksony church. The parish received considerable support from the state as well. The new church was built closer to the town centre. The church was planned by Bertalan Árkay, the dome by Pál Csonka. Construction lasted from April 1957 till July 1958, built wholly by the craftsmen contracted by the architect and the construction engineer.
The clerical press emphasized that the country’s most modern church had been built here in which up-to-date pastorate could also be realized. The chairs like cinema seats were completed in 1961, the aluminium cover of the dome was ready in 1961 and the statue of Christ was installed on the façade in 1972.
Each sheet of the plan documentation of the Taksony church is dated 1956-1957, 31 out of the 35 plans showing variants of the floorplan, elevation and façade. The rich set of plans reveal that Bertalan Árkay’s imagination was inspired by the possibility to design a church of novel space formation. He envisioned a wide variety of solutions from a simple rotunda to a complex ensemble consisting of church, tower, servicing sections and arcade, from the undivided gable with rose window to an entrance section on an oval plan with openwork façade. This series of plans is unparalleled in his post-1945 church architecture, and there is only a single example in his oeuvre that somewhat resembles this church on an elliptic floorplan. It is the set of drawings entitled Böszörményi road cinema (Csörsz cinema) and highrise in which a building on an oval plan appears with an accentuated entrance edifice and across from it a curved extension.
In his earlier career Bertalan Árkay turned so radically away from traditional church models as in Taksony only once: in the Városmajor church, so it is worth exploring what might have been the possible sources of inspiration. In this paper a single book is looked at closely in this regard, which was not only written at the time of the building of the Városmajor church but it also analyses it in detail, hence it must have been known to Árkay. Among the examples the author Antal Somogyi adduces, a photo of the Frauenfriedeskirche (1927-1929) in Frankfurt designed by Hans Herkommer (1887-1956) elicits associations with one of the variations of the Hort church façade, while Clemens Holzmeister’s (1886-1983) church in Maria Grün reminds the reader of the Taksony curch layout and domed ceiling. Somogyi was of the opinion that arched roofs would come to the fore again in modern architecture. Apparently, Árkay thought in 1956 that the primacy of angular forms and linerality had declined.
The art historical evaluation of the Hort and Taksony churches is based on a stylistic approach and it deals with the formal innovations of modern architecture on buildings whose function and clients both demanded the observation of tradition. Comparing the churches built in Hungary between 1945 and 1970 with those built in Rome in this period, one finds that the traditional floor plans and façade solutions were predominant there too, but some with domed roofs and oval floor plans were also built. In this context it ought to be revised whether it is sensible to separate modern architecture and modern church architecture, and Bertalan Árkay’s churches ought to be revaluated.
The paper presents Bertalan Árkay’s post-1945 smaller churches and through them the architect’s formal solutions and working method on the basis of plans in the estate, archival sources and his own list of works. After a source critical collation of the listed sources, the author takes stock of the elements of the oeuvre and identifying the buildings attributed to Árkay she clarifies the size of the oeuvre. She has found that between 1945 and 1953 he planned three churches (Cegléd, Gerjen, Kömpöc) but the construction of the Cegléd church was interrupted by the historical circumstances. Between 1957 and ’60 he made plans for nine churches (Győr-Kisbácsa, Szalkszentmárton, Vecsés Andrássy-telep, Hernád, Inárcs, Móricgát, Tiszalök, Újtikos, Vecsés-Óplébánia) seven of which were constructed on his plans. In 1961–65 he planned and built the churches of Pátroha, Parádsasvár and Tiszaeszlár. After the identification of restoration work and the contributions of other architects, it could be concluded that in addition to the churches of Hort and Taksony Bertalan Árkay saw 12 of his planned churches built up.
The examination of the buildings and the plan drawings confirmed that Árkay had some favourite formal solutions that he was wont to resort to. Regarding the façade design, three versions can be differentiated: one with a façade tower, one with a gable wall, and one with a pediment. As for window types, he had a penchant for windows with circular head, windows/French windows designed upon the arms of the cross and rosettes subdivided with a cross. Comparing them to the material in the estate one finds that Árkay often reused his motifs designed 20–25 years earlier. Behind the repeated forms of details (portals, choir) collaboration with the same craftsmen can be discerned.
By correcting some facts of the biography the author clarifies that apart from his work in state planning offices, Bertalan Árkay accepted several ecclesiastical commissions. It also came to light that in addition to planning new buildings he often undertook the restoration of buildings and the designing of objects of furnishing in any style.
The final conclusion is that after 1945 Bertalan Árkay was not able to repeat the architecture historical bravura he achieved with the Városmajor church, the prelude to modern Hungarian church architecture, designed with his father Aladár Árkay. In aesthetic terms his smaller churches satisfy the standards of ecclesiastic art and the expectations of the users, but their historicizing elements remove them from the contemporary trends of architecture, and their repetition shows routine rather than architectural invention.