Giving an existing building a new function and to renovate it where new function fits seamlessly with the heritage of the building is always a huge challenge for all parties involved. Especially, when a building has a long history and new function of the building is very prestigious. Everything is possible though, if the right people meet at the right place and at the right time. This was exactly the case with the completely renovated Kepes Center in Eger that was reopened in March 2012 and is now operated by the “Foundation for a Complex Cultural Research”.
A pharmacist, Jozsef Spetz acquired the 100-year-old building in 1802 and ten years later he expanded it with a candy-factory, pharmacy, café and a theater hall, but due to a fire the house was seriously damaged in 1833. Shortly afterwards a local Casino company rented the house and it bought the location in 1878. Until the end of 2nd World War the building functioned as a casino and afterwards it served as the headquarters for local unions. In the early 1980s the house was a local youth center and was called ‘Youth House’. During all these years every tenant added something more to the building to accommodate respective functional needs that did not necessarily served aesthetic aspects.
In 2010 Judith Botos architect was asked to redesign the building that was appointed to be the new home to the Hungarian scientist and university professor György Kepesi’s legacy as well as to be a center for art and cultural events and exhibitions in Eger. Judith Botos has carefully analyzed György Kepesi’s spirit and his way of thinking, and tried to combine it with the new function of the building and its construction. The architect and her team wanted to eliminate everything in and on the building that seemed redundant or did not serve the new function.
Final result of Judith Botos’ work is a beautiful house that unites past, present and future. Iconic, original, classical structural elements are now clearly visible and they seamlessly merge with modern details. The building has a very fresh and easy atmosphere that can accommodate different types of cultural events as well as be a respectable home to György Kepes’ legacy. Wall colors and a unique mix of natural light and electric lighting accentuate the beautiful architectural elements of this building. At the same time it gives the necessary space to various exhibitions and lets exhibited objects be the center of attention.
Judith Botos is specifically proud of the fact that this special project was executed exactly the way it was planned and to the satisfaction of all involved parties. This was only possible, because Judith and her team had the support they needed from all sides – at all times.
What a beautiful happy end of a building that has seen a lot.
Photos: Tibor Zsitva photographer’s courtesy.