Marcell Káldor, head of the Hungarian office of British typewriter manufacturer Yost had his multi-flat house built on the nearly 1300 square yard building plot in Ilka Street in 1907–1908. The plans were made by a relative of his wife, Zoltán Reiss (later making the plans of the Corvin Department Store in Budapest) and the two-floor building was an average Art Nouveau villa. Its street front was divided into two main parts: a gabled part on the right-hand side displaying a bow-window, and another one on the left made up by terraced recessions on every storey.

Béla Lajta and Marcell Káldor may well have known each other before Lajta started to plan the transformation of the villa: they both held positions at the Club of Erzsébetváros and before the villa was originally constructed, the Káldor family lived in Philip de László’s studio-house in Pálma Street where Lajta did at the time. Klára Káldor and Béla Lajta got married as late as December 1912, but Lajta moved in with the Káldors already in the early summer and submitted planning drawings for the studio that he intended to build as an extension to the villa early in February.

This extension had two levels, a basement and a mezzanine, each with a 82 sq m ’drawing hall’ which had windows along its entire length and an almost 50 sq m adjacent room (labelled ’archive for drawings and documents’ on one of the sheets). The flat roof was intended to be used as a terrace. The grandiose proportions seem to support Lajta’s claim documented by Ferenc Vámos that his team included twenty colleagues before World War 1.

The final versions of the plan dating from October, 1912 show the radical transformation of his future father-in-law’s property as well. Straightening the jagged lines of the rizalit volume on the right-hand-side of the building and filling up the terraced part on the left-hand-side created a building made up of strictly geometric volumes with mostly flat (or seemingly flat) roofs. Lajta replaced the ostentatiously Art Nouveau entry with a small entrance loggia made up from columns with block capitals but without base or plinth. He adorned the corner of the tiny roof terrace above it with the copy of a Greek Kouros statue. He stripped the simple white-washed walls above the pebble-clad base of all ornamentation. As far as it can be reconstructed according the few remaining photos, the side fronts were made up of unadorned wall planes, as per the 1912 elevations. Thus the original house, which reflected a rather common taste for Art Nouveau gave way to a radical building, modern and archaic at the same time, whose severity is softened only by the wide variety of window forms and some sculpted stone details.


Csáki Tamás: Káldor Marcell és felesége házának átalakítása és bővítése műteremtoldalékkal. In: Gerle János - Csáki Tamás (szerk.): Lajta Béla. Budapest, Holnap, 2013. 203-205. p.  

Date of planning
1912.02 - 1912.10
Date of construction
1913 - 1914.11
Original address
VII. Ilka utca 49.
XIV. Ilka utca 55.
Mr and Mrs Marcell Káldor
Bloch and Holitscher
Building type
Villa house
Building status

Planning drawings

Archive photos