Media Architecture Prize 2017, Hungary

no violin, no theatre, no smiles, just an incredible sadness

– in loving memory of Erika Pásztor (1961-2017) –

It is with intense sadness that we announce the death of Erika Katalina Pásztor, who passed away on 30 October 2017 at the age of 56, after a long and devastating illness. As the editor-in-chief of Építészfórum in Hungary, she was the champion of an open and intense debate on architecture in that country. She was a multi-talented architect and the first in many things. She was the artistic director of the first Hungarian computer animation company, Wonderland Studio (1995). She founded the first independent media design company in Hungary (1998), and in 2000 she started with architecture critic Mihály Vargha, who was the editor-in-chief of the publication until he died in 2010, after which she took over.

But most of all she was an extremely powerful and caring woman. I met her for the first time when she invited me to chair a selection of the top ten buildings and plans for 2015. When she came to pick me up at the airport, she never mentioned all the things she was and had done. There were larger things at stake, she thought, like the state of architectural debate in Hungary, us being strong and independent women, the mess in her car, and the importance of a good hotel and a good glass of wine for ‘ladies who lead busy lives’. We became friends instantly, conversing about new loves and new lives one moment, and program directions and architecture stuff the next. Even then she wasn’t well, and often became tired, but was always unstoppable and had an incredible amount of energy. Since then and until recently, we talked about the expansion of the Hungary Media Architecture Prize into the rest of Europe. Its idea being so simple and brilliant: a professional jury selects the nominations, a media jury decides on the winner. Thus providing for maximum media attention, and most of all, maximum reach to talk about the importance of architecture, beliefs, traditions, innovations, and politics.

This year’s nominations can be found here, but at their public presentation and the subsequent announcement of the winner in two weeks from now, I will miss her incredibly. There will be no violin this year, and there shouldn’t be, no theatre, and no smiles. Just an incredible sadness. Through Erika I have learned a lot about Hungary, about how awkward topics like migration, poverty, and segregation are connected to architecture, politics, and history, but I have also learned to value Hungary’s strive for architectural innovation, its strong traditions, its craftsmanship, its ambitions, and its hopes. And, more importantly, how vital it is to be understanding when acting on one’s beliefs, to never waver, yet always be gentle. Erika will live on in our loving memory, in us, and in the MAP, in which she has put so much of her strength, beliefs, and hopes.

Indira van ‘t Klooster