’MY DESIGNS ARE FOCUSED ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMMUNITIES’ – KÖZTI+CSÍZY LÁSZLÓ
2023. December 22.
He got his diploma at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Faculty of Architecture in 2006, with additional MÉSZ/MÉK and Pro Progressio Foundation diploma awards. He has gained further practice in Spain, owing to a scholarship. He began working at KÖZTI 17 years ago, in the studio of Skardelli György. He got Junior Prima award in 2011, as an acknowledgment of his activity in architectural design, and teaching at the university. Csízy László has been project lead architect and a member of the board at Közti since 2021. He had been raised among fantastic, creative people; communities are very important for him, he believes in open communication and pays a lot of attention to ensure that the team members of his projects can share their own ideas with each other.
I had been working on my diploma project, when my friend, Petri Dávid, told me to ready my portfolio because there was a vacancy at KÖZTI. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about the firm. At that time, many of the students paid more attention to the foreign architectural firms, than the Hungarian ones. I realized only at that time, that the Papp László Budapest Sports Arena had been designed by Skardelli György, and I was able to start my studio work with him. The elegant, large-scale pebble form had a great impact on me many years ago, it is still a defining building of contemporary Hungarian architecture. Since then, I was also able to work on the interior expansion of the iconic building…
Which previous or present KÖZTI project is important for you and why?
You can take notice of a building if you see it on a photo, but you can get to know it only by a personal visit and touch. Such experiences made me love the Hotel Sofitel building, which is being partially demolished right now and the grandiose interior of the Skycourt at Liszt Ferenc International Airport.
On the other hand, I think that you can only get into a really deep relationship with a building, if you take part in the design process, or work later on its extension or alteration. The most important KÖZTI building for me is the Puskás Aréna, not because of its size, but owing to the vibe and intensive creative process of the years spent creating it.
Which old-time (KÖZTI) architect would you like to meet and what would you ask from him? If time travel were possible, I would go back to the 1980s. KÖZTI had had an office in Algeria for more than 20 years. Looking at Boór Zoltán’s photos and listening to Smaraglay László’ stories, I think I should like to spend a few years there, together with the architects who worked there at that time. I would draw, make annotations in French, and drive on the sand dunes by 4WD. It must have been a very inspiring ambience, fine buildings with very clear construction had been born. A few years ago, I met Ázbej Kristóf pop-art artist, whose father, Ázbej Sándor was the architect of the Olimpic Stadium in Alger, which followed the design principles of the Hungarian Népstadion. A that time, I was already working in a small team on the design of the Puskás Aréna, which became perhaps the greatest professional challenge and joyful success in my life.
Have you/have you had a master? Who did you learn the most from?
I feel lucky because I have been surrounded by fantastic creative people since I was a child. There were my creative parents and my sister, who is a painter and today she is creative director at Google in Los Angeles. But pianist Apagyi Mária and painter Lantos Ferenc had the most profound effect on me, they taught me to draw and play my drawings on the piano in their Artistic Free School, from the age of 6. This kind of improvisative, essential and holistic creative work has determined my way of thinking ever since.
In the field of architecture I owe a lot to Sugár Péter, Cságoly Ferenc, Szabó Árpád and Benkő Melinda. But my coming of age has been brought about working with Skardelli György, who has a captivating personality; he can create amazing, unconventional layouts and forms, while being an absolutely maximalist concerning their functionality.
However, I can learn much from those as well, with whom I work together on a building nowadays, day by day sitting in front of the computer screen or bending above the sketching paper…
What is your important professional goal, what has been written on your bucket list?
A very active period of my generation was burdened by the economic crisis; those of us who were lucky, rode it out as members of creative communities, but a lot of architects have given up their profession. Many have gone abroad. So there are very few important existing buildings that have been designed by us as lead architects. These belong to the bucket list to be accomplished in the future. My designs are focused on the development of the communities, let it be the Lutheran Nursery School at Aszód or the future vision of urban development in Vác, regardless of scale. It is very important, that the design process is approached from many different directions, and this is much helped by the variety of the projects at KÖZTI, both in themes and scale. My more comprehensive professional goal is to give an elegant architectural answer to the challenges brought about by the global economic situation and the threatening climate change. But this shouldn’t be interpreted like the world peace slogan of the beauty contests. That requires strategy, my idea needs closer professional collaboration and a kind of coming together.
What would be your message to the graduate students of architecture?
I think, it is too early to put a message of my own into words, but I can quote a fitting remark of Lantos: ’Are you working? Because those who work will have advantage!’
What would you like to do most, if you had a job different from the present one?
I like to arrange things and connect elements, let them be building toys, architectural spaces or even musical notes. To stay put in one place is a great challenge for me; if I were not able to work as an architect, I would carve wood to make ships or rather drumsticks. We have won an international architectural design competition in Zimbabwe, I’d be happy to spend a few years there, too…
How can you recharge yourself best?
This has changed over time; nowadays I spend more time in the garden. I have noticed that the greenery puts me in order. One of the greatest challenge in our profession, I think, is to find our way back to nature, whether we can build an environment where people can recharge themselves while coexisting with nature in a healthier way, in the densly populated cities, without moving out of them and occupying even more forrests.
What is it that others don’t know about you (but you’d let them know gladly)?
I think, I am much more reserved than I seem to be at first sight, so there would be a lot to write about. But those who know me better know that I believe in a very informal communication both among the architects and other specialists and with the client. The question is, whether we can be open enough towards each other, instead of just trying to make ourselves understood by the others. My preferred method of design is based on each member of the team sharing his/her thoughts and ideas about the project with everyone else. This can lead to a pretty grueling but very exciting interchange of ideas. I have noticed that this method has resulted in a much stronger bonding to the project and somehow always the best solutions have been followed up. Naturally, I agree that the final decision must be the responsibility of a single person.
What would you do if you were shut in the KÖZTI buliding for 3 days (without the colleagues)?
There were design competitions when we spent several days continuously in the office, though not under lock. Nowadays, something else occurs to me. There is always a harmonica in my pocket, music helps me, calms me, recharges me. But I would miss my small sons very much. Or could they visit to play with lego?