Plaster Archeology in Budapest’s Seventh District: Toward a Mode of Engagement with Architectural Surfaces


  • László Munteán



architecture, Budapest, façade, haptic vision, plaster


Used as a predominant covering material in Central and Eastern Europe throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, plaster’s malleable characteristics also enabled its efficient utilization as a material for imitating decorative features traditionally made from stone and marble. Instead of looking at plaster as an imitation material, this article proposes studying it as a material archive containing unintentionally preserved traces of the past that may include fragments of advertisements, graffiti, bullet holes, or virtually any inscription in plaster that would otherwise be bound to disappear. Plaster archeology is a mode of looking at plaster less as a conduit of architectural form and more as a material surface involving depth. As a discipline, plaster archeology entails a set of practices that allows one to attend to these surfaces, although not with the intention to save traces of the past from disappearance, but rather towards reconceptualizing plaster as a material in its own right that constantly transforms at the whims of human and climatic forces.  By using two buildings located in the heart of Budapest’s seventh district as case studies, I will then demonstrate how the plaster archeologist views and examines façades. Finally, through an exploration of plaster’s characteristics and history, I argue for plaster archeology as a non-interventive mode of engaging with architectural surfaces.






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