The starting point for this project was a pair of hundred-year-old buildings close to one another and used by children with physical disabilities – one of them the Institute for the Blind, an iconic work of Hungarian pre-modernism designed by Béla Lajta. The aim was to connect the two buildings in such a way that they could be used together to treat children and aid their development. The new section would house the medical treatment rooms and classrooms, the hall of residence and a kindergarten.
The renovated building can be entered via a side road leading to the Mexikói road through the wing that closes off the courtyard of the Lajta House. The accentuated entrance building in the centre of the yard streches out as the extension of the main axis of the two-storey block behind it. The spacious aula, that has a glass wall on one side joins the side-wing of the old building at a right angle, then continues through the main building which houses classrooms, gyms, conference rooms, the cafeteria and the swimming pool, which are located in the basement. It then leads into a long, street-like corridor that is connected to two-storey residential blocks. It reaches the sidetract of the Medgyes House in an L-shape.
The way in which the new building connected to the old building was of great importance to us. The additions respect the historical building not by imitating it, but by providing a counterpoint to the now old, but once modern building. Beside the brick building, which is a fundamentally closed, static block, we designed a simple, white, modern building that is connected to the old and completes the courtyard formed by the Lajta wing. As one of the corners is left open, the view into the half-closed courtyard is not restricted – a gesture characteristic of the age of Béla Lajta. The new glass façades connect to the Lajta wing at a slight angle, as if embracing the old building. This detail emphasizes the gentle, yet still firm and decisive formation that is characteristic of the whole design. The new building manages to maintain its own identity, while avoiding a harsh clash between the modern glass-walled structure and the old, traditional brick-clad façade.