The HFF knitting factory complex is located in the southern part of Budapest, and dates back to 1913-1915. Originally built as a weapons factory, Loft 19, a towering four-storey building, and its surrounding factory parts have now been deemed protected industrial structures. To your everyday homemaker, the factory may not radiate with the traditional connotations of a home sweet home; in some ways it is Budapest’s answer to District 9…
To Attila F. Kovács and his wife, Zsusza Megyesi however, this unusual, giant space with its movie-set environment is their idea of working domestic bliss. Living there is a lot like being plunged into the world of Sin City or Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Both at the helm of A + Z Design Studio, Attila is an architect and production designer, while Zsusza is an art director and stylist. It’s no wonder that the duo were able to tackle this massive exercise in design and pull it off so well.
Tailor-making their dream home was not without its struggles however – when they bought the building, it was in ruins, with shattered windows and broken doors… no water, no electricity, no gas. The full restoration took two years and involved extensive reconstruction of several key parts.
"I have always wished for a giant hall size studio, a huge empty space where I can lay 100 books and magazines open on the floor at the same time and where you could just as easily play table tennis or even badminton."
The 600m² building provides enough space for all of this and much more.
Although there is a deliberate disparity amongst the furnishings, a recurring theme seems to present through objects and furniture whose purposes, once clear, have now been reimagined in whimsical, yet shrewd ways.
Having come across a concrete water tank in the attic, the couple decided it was best repurposed as a swimming pool, complete with artificial current. While swimming through the water, one is exposed to a view through the glass walls to the huge daybed built on bookshelves legs in the library room.
The design of the space incorporates a laid back, personal mix of different styles and eras, predominantly from the 50s and 60s. It is full of unique pieces, collected one-by-one over decades from flea markets and auctions or created by the designers themselves. All the while, the integrity of the original building remains; amongst the residual structural elements, old iron doors have been kept and original beams reused for book shelves.
The capacious ground floor with its vast windows and cascades of light plays its main role as a large studio and showroom, allowing the couple to work individually if they prefer. The next three levels are dedicated to the living spaces – bedrooms, living / dining area, and recreation – in that order.
Speaking fondly of his home, Attila remarks, “The whole estate is like a city and our building is in the middle. If you look around, you see similar buildings designed at the same time, all in ferro-concrete, so it feels like a movie set. This is an island over the city - an abandoned and peaceful environment with special aesthetics. Just like us. We love it so much."
A + Z Design Studio; a-z.eu.com
Attila F. Kovács; attilafk.com
A + Z Loft 19 photo © Beppe Brancato
Detail photography © A + Z Design Studio