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Belvárosi Színház

Géza Györgyi

alias Film Museum 1957-2003, Brodway cinema 1939-1957
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)26.12.2004 | opening

People

Géza Györgyi |main architect

History

The Első Katonai Biztosító Intézet (First Military Insurance Institute) built the building between 1911 and 1913 as its head office. At basement level, seven metres below the street, a restaurant and place of entertainment functioned, and in 1938 was transformed into a cinema, which opened on 6 January 1939 as the Broadway  Cinema. From the architectural point of view, it was the oddest of cinemas, with its auditorium situated deep under the courtyard of the block. The building remained undamaged during the war and was a cinema for 64 years. In 1957 it received a new specialisation and became the Filmmúzeum, showing old films. Its architect was Ferenc Domány (1899–1939), the most distinguished designer of the time, who had obtained his architectural qualifications in Berlin-Charlotten. The building was originally in Bauhaus style, and a notable feature is the chandelier, which was made in Murano.

In 2003 the cinema closed and reconstruction of the building, together with conversion into a theatre, began. It was intended that after renovation it should be suitable for multi-purpose functioning. It is now a receiving house, a theatre suitable for opera, operetta, theatrical and other performances, and a concert hall. The designers of the building were Rozália Szekeres and Lajos Kuknyó, the interior architect Tibor Somlai, all of Archiméta Kft.  Associate architects were Gábor Lipták, Dominika Szoó and László Offenbecher. Conversion and renovation took fronm January to December 2004 and cost 1 billion forints. From 2002 the building has been designated a protected building, and is considered a part of the World Heritage (15/2002.V.14).

The ceremonial opening took place on 26 December 2004 with a Christmas gala programme by Interoperett. The owner of the building is Komondor Holding and the acting director the opera singer József Kovács. It is now a place for press-conferences, professional lectures, public meetings and auctions. Professional five-camera telerecording is possible, and there are facilities for the use of televsion and radios cars. The theatre can also meet the requirements of film projection and preserves the character of a cinema with contemporary equipment.

 

 

Architectural description

 

The building was built between 1911 and 1913 by the First Military Insurance Institute, according to the plans of Mr. Géza Györgyi (1851-1934). The six-storey high mansion representing the style of the turn of the century was built in an arrow-headed property between Károly Boulevard and Dohány Street.

The entrance of former the Broadway cinema and today’s Downtown Theatre face the Deák Square. On the ground and first floors shops are situated. Above them a dividing edge runs along the building. Above that four levels are situated and also a fifth one with a little retraction. A broken cornice runs around between the last two levels.

The facade facing Deák Square ends in an arched gable and has three opening axes. The side wings have one-casement windows, in the middle axes three-casement windows are situated. The two-level windows frame a trapezoidal motif. The side facades have central and side projections.

The basement might have seemed an obvious location for an underground cinema. Because natural light is not needed for a cinema therefore Ferenc Domány developed one in 1938; seven metres below the street level. The iron columns and reinforced concrete pillars have been formulated in regular system by Domány, who formed concentric circles with hidden lights as a dome. From the auditorium, seating 600 people, the audience can reach the surface through separate exits. The auditorium is fan-shaped so the proscenium opening is a bit tight.

A foyer receives the audience on street level. It leads them into a two-storey- high colonnade with both sides of wide stairways. The slope of the audience does not simply follow a tubby but has transitions with slight curves integrated, so the shell-like floor surface, beside offering good visibility, it also assures  positive spatial effects. The interior design of the theatre is the art deco style.

The Downtown Theatre was designed by the architects Rozália Szekeres and Lajos Kuknyó. The functional change goes hand in hand with the expansion; the former trapezoid-shaped basement has been completed with theatre service functions. Behind the stage located a well which is connected with Danube water, which was well utilized for the air conditioning system.

 

 

 

 

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