Modernism and Changing Historical Context. Case Study of the Former Electric Power Distributor Station of the Hungarian Electrical Grid


Levente Szabó


  • changing value
  • post-war Modernism
  • modernist heritage
  • historical context
  • Hungarian architecture

One of the most relevant topics of the modernist heritage is the changing evaluation of those examples which have a strong relationship with the historical surroundings. These value changes come not only from the different evaluation of the modernist heritage but also from the always changing approaches to the historical heritage.

After the huge damages caused by the World War II in the heart of Buda, the reconstruction process was carried out under outstanding circumstances, based on the work of highly qualified architects from the 1950s to the 1970s. The renewal of the whole district, together with the historical neighborhood, created a unique architectural value, gaining the UNESCO world heritage title in 1987. The former electric power distribution station of the Hungarian electrical grid was finished by 1979 and kept its function until 2007. The industrial function was very far from the functional pattern of the context, but the architect, Csaba Virág (1933-2015) followed the basic settings of Modernism and at the same time used very progressive and sensitive methods in order to suit to the historical tissue.

Nowadays the government decided on demolishing the empty building for the sake of an overall reconstruction plan of the Castle District, however a lot of organizations protested against the decision and a renewal plan was designed in order to save the building. The paper focuses on this special industrial building, especially on the correlation between the different approaches of the historical environment and the changing evaluation of the building itself.