After a long wait, standing in the entrance of Downtown alongside the bank of river Danube, one of the two identical Klotild Palaces shines in its former glory. The authentic and artistic renovation sends a message to the surroundings and the dusty twin sister.
In 1893 the city leaders decided to connect Pest and Buda with a new bridge, and this gave a boost to the improvement of the district. Five years from then they started to build the Oath square bridge (today Elizabeth Bridge) and by the end of 1902 the two Klotild Palaces were already standing at the feet of it. A fine, compelling work of Flóris Korbl and Kálmán Griegl who also designed the Academy of Music. A hundred years later, after the end of the communist regime, the rejuvenation was not so smooth, as it took about 10 years from the evacuation for the war-damaged building to regain its original appearance and to be ready to accommodate its new residents.
The reconstruction was done by the architect Attila Komjáthy and his team, aiming full historical authenticity, and that leaves no mistake at all. The high detailed elaboration of the facades, the rhythmic placement of glass doors of the soon to be opened shops on the ground floor and the mezzanine, the fancy iron barred balcony rows above them fill the whole environment with opulent harmony.
Since the palace sustained heavy damage in the war, several details, profiles, like the balustrade of the main staircase, was reproduced on the model of the originally 100% identical twin building. It’s the gracile shape of the corner tower from a distance, the ornate facades at close range, and the exemplary realization from even closer, that make the place an eye-catching experience.
The passage and the river side entrance with its wrought-iron gate, the faint interior behind the dark glass don’t immure themselves from the street and don’t really open up to it either: its beauty is aristocratic. With its appearance, hopefully it will put an end to the disquieting degradation of Kígyó and Váci Street, and will be a briefing point for the long awaited reconsideration of Kossuth Lajos Street.
Staying true to the original hundred years concept , the ground floor and the mezzanine give place to shops and restaurants, while on the further levels the buildings leaseholder, Mellow Mood Group operates the Buddha-Bar restaurant, bar and luxury hotel. The realization of this concept follows the formula of the world wide famous brand, that turned a music trend into a lifestyle. Consequently the restaurant’s interior design uses own material – this work was led by DWA and REV groups designers from Paris, who imported the aspects and color schemes specific to Buddha-Bar all over the world.
Abounding shades and subtle elegance environ the five meters tall giant Buddha statue sitting in the middle of the restaurant. Although they fit together perfectly well with the brand, the bar and the hotel design are unique to Budapest.
The chandelier bouquets branching from the middle of the mirrors, the gently illuminating red glass-walls, the varnished bar counter, the golden Buddha-head integrated in the suites cabinets, the strong design elements undoubtedly draw near to kitsch still, it’s so logically built visual marketing that links the details together. The black elevator and the dimly lit corridor didn’t shock me as the shadow-play of the fretted iron-grips denoting each room brings life into the setting.
The mild minimalist gestures and the exuberant oriental opulence vary with a fine sense of proportion from the lobby downstairs to the glass-roofed Sky Bar on the 6th floor that even shows a pinch of pre-Bauhaus in point of the two side-lounges. The result is rational, clear-out, yet oriental experience, which is already far from the dreamlike ethno roots that define the Buddha-Bar feeling through music.
There is no mistake in the interior decoration regarding ratios, but we have seen two major architectural flaws. One being the balustrade of the exquisitely reconstructed main stairwell – the mechanically milled pattern of the marble along the staircase reflects the forefronts stucco-work in a specifically indelicate way – the other is the zen garden in the glass-roofed atrium – with or without wooden floor and lampions – owning to the bald, five story high inside fronts with the same repetitive casement-stays and cameras, it resembles to an out-of-order prison yard rather than a meditation and resting-place.
On the whole, the Buddha-Bar conception stays inside the walls, and that’s the main point. The fact, that aside from a few not too flashy logos, there is no sign of it outside of the building testifies, that Mr. Beghelli – the Italian owner of the building – saw the business potential in the fantastic building itself. The original 19th century beauty of the Klotild palace enchanted him, and there was no need for rephrasing or contemporary gestures, just perfectly thought-out and carried out reconstruction. A timeless case for a world brand.