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Connections between the United Kingdom and Hungary in the field of urban design with a particular emphasis on the work of Thomas H. Mawson and Béla Rerrich

Csepely-Knorr, Luca (2012) Connections between the United Kingdom and Hungary in the field of urban design with a particular emphasis on the work of Thomas H. Mawson and Béla Rerrich. Masters thesis (MPhil), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Architectural and urban design connections between England and Hungary were particularly significant in the 19th and early 20th century, evident in Hungarian landscape architecture as well as in the evolution of the architecture of the capital, Budapest. Despite these well-known correspondences, little academic or critical attention has been given to the relationship between the theories and principles of the English civic designer and landscape architect Thomas H. Mawson (1861-1933) and Béla Rerrich (1881-1932), a key figure in Hungarian urban design theory of the 20th century. The turn of the 19th century marked a significant moment in European urban design history. In response to industrialization the role of green spaces changed from being an “island of landscape in a sea of houses” to becoming an essential component of the urban structure (Steenbergen 1995, 120). Theoretical writings dealing with the questions of different aspects of green spaces in cities started to appear more frequently, and the design of park systems became an “international phenomenon” (Dümpelmann 2005, 75). This was the period when Rerrich went on a study tour to Western Europe, and unusually for Hungarian architects at the time, he worked in Mawson’s office for a period of time between 1906 and 1908. This dissertation will argue that Mawson’s seminal role in the development of English urban design, located in his aim to integrate landscape architecture into town planning, was also strongly influential on Rerrich’s theory, informing the Hungarian urban landscape at the beginning of the 20th century. Key urban design writings will be comparatively analysed in an international context to identify forerunners and precedents of theories by Mawson and Rerrich. Correspondences between their theoretical writings will be closely investigated, through analysis of primary and archival material, in order to explore how the former’s urban design principles manifested themselves in Hungarian design theory.

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