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Emil Belluš

Architekt Emil Belluš
Emil Belluš, architect

Emil Belluš (1899 – 1979) was born in Slovenská Ľupča into the family of a carpenter. He graduated from the grammar school in Banská Bystrica, from where he continued at the Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University in Budapest. After the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic, he decided to complete his studies at the Faculty of Architecture of the Czech Technical University in Prague. During his student years, he was actively involved in the activities of the Detvan association.

Already in 1925 he opened his own studio in Bratislava. His work is characterized by pure forms and simple shapes as well as a sense for detail. The range of his architectural work was very wide – in addition to residential and administrative buildings, he designed banks and industrial buildings. As part of the design, he often collaborated with craftsmen and artists, for example, the Colonnade Bridge in Piešťany, which he built at the age of 30, is decorated with etchings by Martin Benka.

In the 1930s, Emil Belluš advocated the establishment of a technical university in Slovakia similar to the one in Prague. Thanks to his efforts, the Faculty of Architecture was established in 1947, for which Belluš designed the buildings and worked for a long time as a teacher.

His interests were very broad and did not only include architecture. Not to mention, for example, his passionate interest in dramatic art. In addition to visiting the performance, he also designed scenes motivated by his brother-in-law, director Ján Jamnický.

He also loved moving, mostly hiking and water sports. He himself was very happy to row and contributed to the establishment of the Slovak Rowing Club whose building, as usual, was designed by him.

He led a rich social life and, in addition to concerts and various cultural events, he liked to visit cafes, where he met writers and painters. His favorite places in Bratislava were, for example, Café Štefánka, Hotel Carlton or Devín.

How he worked

His work was significantly influenced by the new revolutionary architectural direction of functionalism, which was an expression of a change in the perception of the very concept of architecture. According to its representatives, this should not be classified as an art at all but it should be primarily functional and the form should be adapted to this function. The architects of functionalism therefore abandoned the traditional design of facades, instead of decors and ornaments they sought beauty in pure geometric forms, used modern materials and paid great attention to ensuring that the buildings correspond to the principles of healthy living. However, Emil Belluš was not an Orthodox modernist and combined functionalist principles with classicizing elements in our country. In his building of the National Bank you can find the influence of Renaissance palaces. In the decoration of the dormitories of the Mladá garda in Bratislava’s Nové Mesto he again used the ancient technique of sgraffito. The new town hall built in 1948 is also sensitively entering the historic buildings of the Old Town.