Budapest City Archives launched the Béla Lajta Virtual Archives in late 2010, coinciding with the first exhibition on this outstanding Hungarian architect. Béla Lajta (1873-1920) began his career in the early 20th century as an adherent of Ödön Lechner´s national Art Nouveau style. His apartment blocks, schools, hospital buildings and family vaults (1905-15) combine a sober monumentality, well-organised floor plans and fine, personalised detailing, placing them among the foremost buildings in Budapest´s late Art Nouveau or early Modern period. Despite this importance, much of his work stands today in an altered or dilapidated state. His private archives have fared no better: very few of Lajta´s personal records or drawings survive. Lacking an up-to-date monograph, or study of primary sources, a great deal of our knowledge about the architect is based on myth.
The archives strive to cohere scattered documents pertaining to Lajta´s life and work into an easily accessible database, in cooperation with several Hungarian public and private collections. Visitors to the website can study all his surviving architectural drawings, a broad selection of period photos and written documents pertaining to his buildings, alongside records on later alterations as well as a complete photographic record of their present state.
The few documents that shed light on Lajta´s personality (personal correspondence, family records, etc.) are also reproduced here together with some works from his photographic and art collection.
Though certain site content is only accessible in Hungarian, the visual documents include English captions while posts on Lajta´s major works are equipped with English descriptions. The online archive aims to allow local and international users to discover Lajta´s art in detail, thus helping to create a complex, balanced view of his achievements.