Kós Károly (December 16th, 1883 – August 25th, 1977) Hungarian architect, ethnographer, teacher, graphic designer, writer, politician.
Born in Temesvár, Austria-Hungary (now Timișoara, Romania). He studied in the College of the Calvinist Church in Temesvár, after that he commenced his studies as an engineer at the Hungarian Palatine Josef Technical University of Budapest, but he finished them as an architect. During his education he experimented with Romanesque Revival designs, then travelled to Italy, Germany and Austria. However already during his studies and at the start of his career, he had a special interest for the historical and traditional folk architecture, and made study trips to Kalotaszeg and the Székely Land.
On his return the young architect worked with different architectural design bureaus and his interest turned all the much to the Transylvanian rustic architecture. He became the leading figure of 'Fiatalok' (The Youngs), a group of young Hungarian architects who rejected both Ödön Lechner's secessionist style and the prevalent historicism. Kós was influenced by the works of Ruskin, William Morris, the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Finnish architects Eliel Saarinen and Lars Sonck, who studied vernacular buildings in Karelia.
Following their example, Kós toured Transylvania, studying and recording the village architecture. The result was the development of an individual style derived from Finnish architectural trends and Transylvanian folk architecture.
The Roman Catholic Church in Zebegény (1908-9; designed with Béla Jánszky (1884-1945)), was the first building in Hungary created a picturesque effect not only in details but by the entire structure. This was resulted of the asymmetrical but harmonious distribution of mass and an abundantly decorative interior.
Kós designed several significant buildings in these years: the Calvinist Vicarage in Óbuda (Budapest, 1909), the "Crow-castle" - his house in Sztána (Transylvania, 1910), the pavilions of Budapest Zoo, (1910), Eastern Transylvanian Museum / Székely National Museum in Sepsiszentgyörgy (in our days: Sfântu Gheorghe), 1912), school-buildings in Városmajor (Budapest, 1912), houses of Kispest worker and clerk settlement (Budapest, 1913), and the Calvinist Church Kolozsvár (in our days: Cluj-Napoca, Romania), 1913). At the time, his style was influenced by the Vienna Secession and Art Nouveau.
In 1910 he got married. After the outset of the World War I, the unemployed architect moved to Sztána in Transylvania. In 1917-18 he obtained a state fellowship and made a study-tour to Istambul. In 1918 he was asked to be a professor of the College for Applied Arts of Budapest, but he didn't accept the position wishing to return to Transylvania.
After 1919 he lived from odd jobs, he was a draughtsman, a graphic artist, a designer, a journalist, a poster designer and started his political career. Alongside others, he was one of the founders of the Transylvanian (later Hungarian) People's Party in 1921. In 1922 he edited the political magazine "Sunday". In 1924 he founded with his friends the Transylvanian Fine Arts Guild. From 1931 he edited the journal "Transylvanian Helikon". In 1943 he designed the Art Gallery of Kolozsvár, and made the restoration of the house of King Matthias in Kolozsvár.
From 1911 to 1944 he wrote eight architectural and ethnographical study-books, and six historical dramas, novels. In 1944 his house in Sztána was destroyed, he moved with his family to Kolozsvár. After the WW II he became the chairman of the Transylvanian Hungarian Agricultural Association. From 1945 he was the dean of Agricultural College of Kolozsvár and college professor till 1953. Later he was the chairman of the Hungarian People's Coalition and Member of Parliament (1946-48) and contributed to the journal Világosság between 1948-49. From 1946 he wrote three architectural books. He died in Kolozsvár.
Károly Kós and his family in front of Crow-castle (Sztána, Kalotaszeg, Transylvania)