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In the pre-modern era, when the replication of historic styles had become meaningless, the mastery of artistic and stylistic traditions had become second-rate, and architecture's new technical possibilities demanded new forms, Lechner exploited the stylistic vacuum and produced a new independent regional style of construction, anticipating the great individuals of world architecture. By revaluating vernacular motifs, he elevated them and placed them into the realm of monumental architecture. By searching for a connection between Eastern ornamentation and Hungarian forms he created a distinctive architecture and also enriched universal culture through the artistic philosophy of his creative art. Through his spirited architectural fantasies and his influence on numerous followers he created outstanding cultural treasures that demand the attention of all humanity.
We are focusing on Lechner's most significant works, which are within the current borders of Hungary.
A few of the works by his followers (not proposed): Sándor Nagy's studio house in Gödöllő by István Medgyaszay, the School of Higher Commerce on Vas Street by Béla Lajta, the Rószavölgyi House by Béla Lajta, and the Avenue Reformed Church by Aladár Árkay.
The five buildings selected from Ödön Lechner's work fulfil the criteria for authenticity and integrity, eloquently representing the entirety of his architectural work.
To this day, even after over a century, these buildings of Lechner's have continuously served functions that are in accordance with the architect's original conception, and all are utilized in an unaltered state, meaning their authenticity has been preserved. They were constructed in one period (within one decade), and the ensuing minimal alterations or necessary renovations have corresponded with the original plans, so there have been no significant changes to the buildings. During rehabilitation work for example, the occasional missing pieces of Zsolnay ceramics, which were a characteristic element of Lechner's architecture, have been replaced with reproductions made by the Zsolnay factory. Ödön Lechner's selected buildings faithfully and authentically express their cultural values through their form and design, their use of materials, their technical solutions and their spirit.
They have also retained their integrity individually, as well as in their relationship with their built and natural environments; not one of the buildings has suffered irreversible changes to their form. The visual integrity of every one of the buildings has been maintained, and none of the buildings are currently endangered in any manner. The only exception to this is represented by the need to rehabilitate certain elements of the Postal Savings Bank building (the central Grand Lobby of the bank is in need of restoration and rehabilitation).
We will look at the characteristic features of Lechner's architecture: its place and extraordinary value compared to other artists and artistic endeavors within European turn of the century architecture. It is characteristically pre-modern - it rejects the plastic architectural elements of traditional and eclectic styles, instead utilizing vernacular ornamentation of Hungarian and Eastern origin as decoration on flat pre-modern surfaces. We will compare it with similar endeavors, such as the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, who in the same period - but a decade and a half later - placed Native American forms into his own style. We will show its parallels, such as with Gaudi, while also showing the differences: Lechner did not utilize the collage technique, and his art was never surreal or abstract. We will compare Lechner's efforts, methods and results with the work of Mackintosh, V. Horta, and O. Wagner, for example.