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Margit Pelényi (1951)


...The world we live in today has really accelerated. We experience this in a heightened way, compared to the era of socialism and the stagnant period prior to the change. Architects are facing ever newer challenges.

Before the changes most apartment buildings were commissioned and financed by the state, while over the past fifteen years the ownership structure of residential estates has been completely restructured. State owned apartment buildings have been privatized and new ones were built using private capital. It's as if society had forgotten about its poor. It's the first time when we had to face questions like who's going to receive these apartments, what will the building's social makeup be like. We didn't really have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for it, and the buildings probably carry the marks of this unpreparedness.

...Most of the apartments are very small which only qualifies a certain number of the needy to live in them. Poverty in itself is no basis for forming a community. A building needs to communicate with its surroundings, not exist independently of it. It should not be a ghetto within its environment, the place where poor people live, but the building should be even a bit better than its surroundings, because it could give people otherwise living in a very difficult situation a type of dignity. Even poverty can be experienced a little differently in an aesthetically formulated building. In this fast-changing world of ours we have to pay attention to our environment, our values, and this an important part of architecture, and a big responsibility, because architecture is probably the best medium for expressing constancy and lasting values within a changing, unsure, and mobile world.

120 low-income housing apartments in Pécs, Kertváros
Planner: Duplán Ltd., contributor: Gábor Ruppert

The municipality of Pécs chose the architect of the social housing complex (120 apartments of 30-40 square meters each) on a competition. The winning plan, Margit Pelényi's work, is characterized by the application of the fundamental concepts of modern architecture and furthermore by the intention to create liveable buildings. This duality is apparent in the open arrangement of the buildings, the relationship between the structure and the façades, and the fine visual details designed to loosen the impersonal nature of the program. And of course the house has come to life: children play with scooters on the entrance ramp, and names have appeared on the built-in wooden mailboxes, written with extraordinary care. The apartments are situated in three buildings, which work well together. The intention to avoid bleakness by systematically using various details, which are both simple and economic, is typical of Pelényi's approach: the generic cubes of residential high-rise are broken by a cylindrical elevator chute and stairwell, which the architect has placed at the buildings' connection point. The intensity of the red tower dominates the scene, and children are obviously drawn to the single curved element.
(Excerpt from a description by Krisztina Somogyi.)



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