The Faculty’s Mission
The faculty has always been typified by a realistic approach, which can be described as practicality and moderation in architecture. Realism has implied something different in every era. Between the two World Wars, it was modernity and progress; afterwards, mass production and reliability took prominence. Since the 90s, diversity and constant technical refinement have become important.
Diversity suits us, the instructors, because we ourselves are diverse. That way, we can teach what we feel best and what we know best. It is also good for students just beginning university (since they can pick up skills more easily), as well as for upperclassmen (who can find the path to their own architecture more easily). Last but not least, it is good for the department, since we instructors may learn from each other.
We also continually learn from our research, the emphatic focus of which, besides environmental consciousness and sustainable development, remains to this day the analysis and basic planning of residential buildings. This applies just as much to the past and distant cultures as it does to modern housing experiments. Our task it is the accumulation, systematization and conveyance of skills and experience.
The faculty’s long-term goal is to bring practicality and moderation into harmony with diversity and constant technical refinement.
The Faculty’s History
When university-level architectural training began in Hungary, in 1871, architectural planning was already being taught at the Royal Franz Joseph Technical University – that is, at the planning practice stage. The subject did not have its own department. While the architectural wing developed remarkably, both in terms of the teaching faculty and the number of subjects; still, an independent department for planning and design did not come into existence until 1926, with Iván Kotsis named Extraordinary University Professor at the head of it. Kotsis earned his diploma in 1911, in which year he also became a teaching assistant at the Technical University, in the Faculty of Modern Architecture. One year later, he became an associate professor. In 1920, he earned his Privatdocent (private instructor) qualification with his work entitled “History of the Development in Italian Renaissance Architecture”. He became a full professor in the planning department on 3 June 1928.
Iván Kotsis held a “Residential Planning” course for second-year students two hours a week, and design practice for third-year students ten hours a week. Fourth-year pupils were free to choose a department for their planning and design practice. Thus, Kotsis ran the planning department besides the architectural history and drawing faculties.
Naturally, the theory and practice of residential houses, as a subject, did not begin with Iván Kotsis. Following 1871, there were public building courses – that is, within the overall sphere of practice, there were lectures and design practice that dealt with dwelling purposes as well. The latter was pursued, under the leadership of Alajos Hauszmann and Imre Steindl, altogether five hours a week. Pupils received a program of planning “smaller structures, residences and chapels”. Later, for eight hours a week, they received assignments related to “home furnishing and residential comfort; division of rooms and living spaces; incorporation of staircases; formation of façades and courtyards; and the planning of tenements, city dwellings and villas.” Nonetheless, training in planning and design was not distinct from construction, art history and architectural morphology. Only the creation of an independent planning and design faculty would make that possible.
Besides his work as an educator, Kotis regularly published on the subject of residential architecture: in 1932, “Problems of Contemporary Residential Architecture”; in 1941, “Recommendation for the Correction of Home Building Design for Middle-Class and Modest Wage-Earning Families”; in 1942, “Approaches to Plans for Small and Medium-Sized Tenement Flats” and “Residential Architecture of the Near Future”, as well as “Approaches to Plans for Row Houses”.
After World War II, the Technical University’s architectural training recommenced under seven departments. Among them was the building design department under the direction of Iván Kotsis. In 1948, political changes affected the university as well. Kotsis dismissed three teaching assistants from the university (including his son, Iván Kotsis, Jr), and he himself was called into retirement in 1949. Together with his retirement, in 1948 and 1950, the architectural faculty underwent its first two periods of reform atter the war. The number of planning and design departments grew to three, and the faculties (up till then, only designated by number and hallmarked by their respective leader’s name) received distinct profiles: the Residential Building Design, the Public Building Design and the Industrial Building Design Departments.
After Kotsis’ departure, Antal Reischl took over the faculty’s leadership. In 1948, Reischl joined the Technical University as a teaching assistant. From 1951, he held the title of associate professor in the Faculty of Residential Building Design. He defended his doctoral dissertation, “Home Furnishing – Planning of Houses for Families”, in 1961, the same year that he was named a university professor. Until his death in 1978, Reischl led the department, and his educational style preserved the faculty’s pragmatic tradition. With his firm and consistent standpoint, he made the faculty a pillar of the university’s architectural education program. His textbook, “Design of Residential Buildings”, published in 1973, has been a defining tool of faculty instruction for multiple decades.
In 1978, Lóránt Olasz, an associate professor, led the department for one year. Then followed the period of university professor Pál Pongrácz’ leadership, which lasted ten years.
Also for ten years, Ybl Award-winning architect János Bitó ran the faculty’s work, starting in 1990, after the system change. He did so until 1995 as an associate professor, and afterwards as a university professor. His philosophy was imbued with a strong sense of humanity, following in the Kotsis tradition. After retiring, he wrote the textbook “Design of Residential Houses”, which contains exact information and know-how about the planning of residential buildings. The book is an important element of the faculty’s instruction and has also become a design handbook on account of its precision and universally valid prescriptions. In addition, János Bitó directed the department’s English-language training for years, even as an emeritus professor.
In 2001, Kossuth Pize- and Ybl Award-winning architect József Kerényi was named to the head of the department as a university professor. During his four years as faculty leader, he maintained and strengthened the faculty’s characteristic practical and moderate approach. Highly respected for his professional authority, he provided a sure foundation for work carried out within the department. With Kerényi’s initiative, the department’s Postgraduate School of Architectural Engineering was formed in 1996. He led it until 2010.
Since 2020, Marton Nagy, associate professor of the university, has run the department.