Originally completed in the early 1900s during the height of Budapest’s belle epoque boom years, Paris Court (Párizsi Udvar in Hungarian, also called the Brudern House) has been a landmark building since its construction. Sadly, following World War I, World War II, and subsequent decades of Soviet rule, the building fell into severe disrepair (its formerly stylish, Parisian-style shopping arcade at the ground floor was in particularly poor shape). However, the building and its iconic arcade recently reopened to the public as a five-star hotel following a major renovation by interior design studio KROKI and architecture studio ARCHIKON.
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Even before the recent restoration and renovation, the building’s impressive Gothic and Moorish-inspired design by noted architect Henrik Schmahl began to be recognized (and even renowned) as a great film location for spy movies, fashion shoots, and other events that took advantage of its evocative interiors. Films like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) with Gary Oldman; Spy (2015) with Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, and Jude Law; and the series Dracula (2013-2014 ) with Jonathan Rhys Meyers all were all shot in Paris Court.
While these films took advantage of the dark and damaged condition of the arcade, the process of restoring it to its original glory began in earnest three years ago. ARCHIKON restored the exterior of the building, the decorative elements of the facade, and the glass of the arcade skylight. "For me the exciting part of this project was behind the scenes," says Csaba Nagy, lead architect of ARCHIKON. "This is why we designed the protective case to allow visitors to see into the Paris Court from above."
ARCHIKON then made other subtle, thoughtful alterations and interventions in the building. They enclosed a formerly open-air courtyard with a unique rooftop with geometric glass panels to create a light-filled space for the new hotel. They also added a new floor to the building for the hotel’s presidential suite, complete with a rooftop terrace that not only provides grand views of the city, but also of the building’s original roof tiles and detailed craftsmanship.
For the interior design and finishes of the new hotel, KROKI employed a simpler, more modern aesthetic to contrast—and be clearly distinguished from—the original, historic portions of the building. As the co-founders of KROKI Studios, Andras Gode and Balázs Kery, explained, "We were inspired by the heritage of the great designers of the 1900s, but wanted to make a contemporary version of the Arabian Nights that they had originally envisioned with the building."
To create this inspired-but-modern design, they looked to motifs from the historic building that could be expressed through texture and color in the new hotel rooms. Custom-made patterns of hexagons—recalling the hexagonal tile of the floor of the arcade below—were employed on the floors and wallpaper, while custom wood paneling suggests the Moorish style that is visible in the original design.
The restoration work, the new structural and architectural elements, and the careful selection of textiles, patterns, and materials in the renovation project make for an inspiring, exciting project that gives new shine to an old gem.
Architect of Record: ARCHIKON
Interior Design: KROKI Studio