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Discover Debrecen – The Borsos Villa

The Borsos villa in the middle of the old garden housing estate is a real architectural gem in Debrecen. József Borsos, the former chief architect of Debrecen, designed the building for himself and his family, the courtyard of which was once decorated with a swimming pool and a beautiful rose garden. 

Today, the more than 100-year-old building functions as a community house that is not only worth a visit for its programs but for its architecture.

The Borsos Villa

Until the 1970s, the site of the Old Garden housing estate (Vénkerti lakótelep) was once one of the city’s gardens with one-storey houses and vineyards. This part of the city was repurposed to house an increasing population, and consequently, ten-storey panel houses were erected here. The only building that remained in its original condition was the villa of the architect József Borsos, which still stands out from its surroundings. The villa, or “Old Garden Viscose,” as the architect referred to his own house, was built in 1912. Its garden is decorated with an anno pool and a beautiful rose garden.

The building housed the Literary Museum between 1980 and 2011 , but after it was moved to Péterfia Street, the villa was left to its fate. The villa, which was neglected for nearly a decade, along with the garden surrounding the building were renovated in 2020It currently operates as a community space where programs are held on a daily basis for residents of the housing estate and the city.

In front of the villa stands a bust of the designer, József Borsos , made in 1977 by Hondromatidis Rigasz, a sculptor of Greek origin from Debrecen.

A digital exhibition of the works of József Borsos can be seen here: http://www.dbvk.hu/egyebek/borsos_kiallitas/html/keptar.html

Who was that József Borsos?

József Borsos (1875-1952) was a defining figure of 20th century Hungarian architecture, especially in Debrecen, who worked as the chief architect of the city of Debrecen from 1908 , then from 1923 until his retirement he was the head of the technical department of the mayor’s office. In 1929-30, he prepared the city-wide town planning plan, on the basis of which Debrecen was built and developed for more than 25 years. He designed the Kossuth Street Police Palace and the university church , among others , but we can thank him for the pedestrian and boulevard network in the Nagyerdő area, the Nagyerdei sports complex and the old stadium, as well as the Déri tér park, designed to replace the former Herb Garden. One of his best-known works is the building of the Public Cemetery Funeral Home, which he not only designed but also supervised the works.

He was happy to use the works of co-artists in his buildings : ceramics, sculptures, reliefs, wood carvings, frescoes, stained glass windows, and he designed many of them himself.

József Borsos was a far-sighted, highly educated architect who, during his lifetime, monitored the development of world architecture, but his attention was always drawn to the use of historical, historicist architecture and the use of brick. His work for the architecture of Debrecen is free from fashion trends and is still seen as exemplary today.

József Borsos rests in the decorative plot of the public cemetery he has created.

More about József Borsos: http://www.dbvk.hu/borsos/html/borsos_jozsefrol.html