You’ve seen it many times. You probably walked beside it the other day. But did you notice it looks different now?
Originally designed by architects Flóris Korb and Kálmán Giergl, Királyi Bérpalota has sat in the middle of Ferenciek tere for over a century, collecting pollution from the traffic driving by. It is now beautifully renovated and looks as impressive as it ever has. So we were fascinated about what stories might come from this magnificent building.
Built as a royal investment property around 1901, commissioned directly by the Austrian Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (they tore down several other buildings to make space for it), the Királyi Bérpalota originally had 24 units with 6 on each floor: each consisting of 6 to 8 rooms, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms and a servant quarter with their own toilet. With the exception of the servant quarter, this is quite a modern layout for 1901. The emperor himself visited twice and it was rented out to high society people of the time.
During WWII, one of the internal staircases collapsed and the whole roof was destroyed. It was repaired after the war but, if you compare the historic pictures, the roof structure and dome is less ornate after the rebuild. Furthermore, it was nationalized and split into the 66 units that stands today. After the end of socialism, the building was again sold off and the current tenants had the option to buy their units at a relatively low cost, as was the case with most of the buildings in the country.
Over the years, very little renovation work was done, or when any was carried out, it was not done well and in the most cost effective way possible. By the late 90’s, the beautiful inner courtyard’s glass roof was falling apart and so they put scaffolding up in the main entry area and lit it with 5 haphazard light bulbs and many of the huge original doors had been removed/stolen. This is when a new condo rep, Tamás Rádiusz, took over the building, someone who had grown up in it and whose parents and grandparents had lived in it, and someone who wanted to restore this building to prosperity again.
He worked very hard to first get the glass roof rebuilt at an acceptable cost, then cleared out the basement of a 100 years’ worth of junk in order to document and fix the sewage and water lines. Next, all the electrical was replaced throughout the whole building (it was a huge fire hazard previously). And eventually the inner courtyard and stairwells were all nicely renovated and painted back in the original yellowish color schemes. The final step was the most expensive and most effective one: renovating the outside of the building. The limestone has now been nicely cleaned and the building is back to its original glory.
Photos and featured image by berpalota.hu and Infinitum Properties.