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Gateway at University of Debrecen, Hungary

Gábor Szilágyi

A research institute and its representative building, architectural discourse on an urbanistic scale, the ergonomic interrelation of nature and architecture, minimalism and delicately applied materi­als, the formative interaction of architecture and art: these conjunction points are the basis of per­ception of the Life Sciences Institute and its Library Building in Debrecen (Debreceni Élettudományi Intézet Épülete és Könyvtára), by architects János Golda and Gábor Szenderffy, and the attached gateway designed by the sculptor János Megyik. 

The gateway forming the entrance to the library of the Life Sciences Institute fulfils a central architectural role. It consists of an approximately 15 m high vertical element and a horizontal connecting element rest­ing on the building at roof level. The core of the construction is irregularly punctuated by reinforced concrete covered with green prepatinated copper sheets, articulated by standing and flat lock seams. Seaming is the technique of joining copper or other metal sheets together for roof covering. The raster of horizontal and vertical seams is functional; this holds the copper sheets together and plays a part in the proportioning and visual build-up of the object.

In the past the attributes of architectural use of copper were more attuned to a historic rather than contemporary architectural en­vironment. However, there are strong signs that the architecture of today has also dis­covered this material. Due to growing in­terest, the English Copper in Architecture Award, until recently only open to British entries, has been extended, as of 2005, to entries from all over Europe. The Debrecen Gateway was ranked in the top six of the large number and high quality contemporary architectural entries.

The János Megyik's Gateway is the essence of the artist's life's work to date, focusing on perspective and projective geometry. The pile of rhythmically fragmented lines is put together from the application of plans resulting from perspective analysis and use of projective geometry of a Megyik's draw­ing (Table and Stool) regarded as a primary picture of his art. The resulting artefact shows an entangled but structured mesh of geometric connections. The standing seams refer back to the artist's earlier stick constructions, a method he applied to model other constructions such as various imagi­nary spaces based on architectural plans (for example Santa Maria Novella in Florence, 1980-81), interpreting the creation as a pic­ture and as an architectural model.

Nevertheless, the gateway of Debrecen shows unequivocal affinity with the latest works of the artist. The characteristics of these are pierced surfaces, positive-nega­tive forms or surface slashes, as much as multi-centricity arising from the application of several viewpoints. With his new works, Megyik speaks simultaneously of form and through the form the intention of creating form, the work of art and the absence of it, the displacement of centres of gravity and searching for new balances, new centres. In this perspective, the geometric fundamentals of the gateway of Debrecen, a vastly enlarged work, creates exciting tension between the modern outlines of the building and its own mesh of surface lines, displacing and reinterpreting the purified space structure created by the buildings. The wall-like substance of the gateway juxtaposes the glass surfaces of the two buildings and provides vertical reading by its openings, directing the eye upwards, towards the sky. One of the main functions of the presence of the gateway is therefore displacement, the search and re­positioning the centres of gravity. From the straight of the walkway the gateway makes us turn towards it, arriving underneath it compels us to stop and by examining the ­transverse lines, the rhythms and the apertures we experience the vitalisation of the geometry of the building. 

A Debreceni Élettudományi Intézet és Könyvtár kapuja

Az egyetemi városként is emlegetett Debrecen és a régió számára komoly érték teremtődött, amely sokrétű és példaértékű párbeszéd kezdeményezője lehet még a jövőben.

Interview with sculptor, Mr. János Megyik in Hungarian language with English subtitles. Video made by Gábor Szilágyi and Frank Foreman.



Debreceni Egyetem
Completion date: 
Zip code: 
Egyetem tér 1.


Facades/Part seams
Type of building: 
Health and social care
Copper used: 


Name, office: 
Golda János, Szenderffy Gábor
Address & description: 
János Megyik - Artist

Copper contractors

Szolnok „Kas” Kft.
Address & description: 
5000 Szolnok, Pálfy János út 20., Hungary

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Nick Hay

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