Mayor László Papp, chief architect István Gábor, and municipal representative Sándor Nagy reported on the details at a press conference on May 23, 2023, writes debrecen.hu.
As Mayor László Papp said, the intention to establish the Civil House of the Year competition and award was announced at the April meeting of the city assembly, and the representatives will decide on creating the recognition at the assembly on May 25. Debrecen is in a very intense phase of development and transformation, and during this period the protection of the built heritage becomes more valuable. This type of economic development has already occurred several times in the city’s history – for example, at the end of the 19th century, during the period of activity of Mayor Imre Simonffy, later in the 60s and 70s of the last century – and now, in the 2010-2020 years represent a period for the city when a very intensive transformation process is typical. That is why it is worth putting a lot of emphasis on the protection of the built heritage. At the moment, 131 buildings in the city are under monument protection, and 281 are under local protection. An 8,000-page material was prepared in cooperation with the Debrecen City Preservation and Beautification Association, which processes the history of the still existing cívis houses and discusses their architectural significance. The city’s chief architect’s office, together with the city preservation association, is carrying out the value protection procedure for 270 buildings in order to declare them locally protected. According to László Papp, the city is responsible for this issue and tries to protect the buildings that serve it. The municipality is very actively involved in the protection of the built heritage with development resources and investments, as, for example, the building of the Csokonai Theater will soon be fully renovated and again at the service of culture, and the renovation of the historical building of the town hall is also underway. The mayor emphasized: we want to encourage the people of Debrecen to renovate, maintain, develop, and preserve the properties they own that belong to the Cívis architectural heritage with a similar attitude if possible.
The purpose of the planned Cívis House of the Year competition is to “reward old-style residential buildings with a character that serves to strengthen the city’s historical image and civic identity, and with their architectural and land use quality, in addition to ensuring cultured everyday use, their exemplary cityscape and streetscape appearance meet modern needs building use, including the planned use of renewable energies”. It is a big challenge how to renovate and transform buildings that are 100-150 years old or even older in such a way as to preserve the architectural character of Cívis.
According to the plans, a property owner or property user who has converted, renovated or maintained the building with a civil character, i.e., spends money on the property while preserving the architectural values, can apply for the Civil House of the Year recognition. You can only apply for a residential building – a building with at least 50 percent residential function. You will need to fill out an application form and submit it to the city’s chief architect, who will be the professional responsible for the application. The environmental protection and urban development committee of the general assembly will propose the awardees. Applications can be submitted until July 31 each year, after which the decision will be made. Two Cívis House of the Year recognitions will be awarded each year, and the recognition comes with a plaque and a letter of decoration.
As a good example, László Papp mentioned the renovation of the former Queen of England Hotel building on the corner of Kossuth and Batthyány streets, which is now not used as a residential building, and whose owner gave the building a wonderful new look. Fortunately, several similar examples could be cited from the city, so it is even worth considering that the Civilian House of the Year should also have a category recognizing the renovation of non-residential buildings. The mayor emphasized: the municipality wants to give impetus to the protection of the houses in the city.
According to the words of the chief architect István Gábor, the city is working to renew as many buildings and streetscapes as possible from the built heritage, so that Debrecen continues to carry its historical values. Good examples can encourage the population to come together and help beautify and renew the cityscape.
According to municipal representative Sándor Nagy, nowadays we feel that Debrecen is becoming more beautiful every day, and is developing to such an extent that people who come here hardly recognize the city based on their memories of the past. The local regulations, the town image manual, and the announcement of the Civil House of the Year recognition application have a good chance of contributing to Debrecen becoming one of the most beautiful cities in the country.