Cívis houses of Debrecen then and now


November 17, 2021 | Wednesday | 18.00

Photography exhibition of architect Attila Harangi and photographer Viktor Löki by the Hajdu-Bihar County Chamber of Architects

laudates: Zsolt Füleky, Deputy Secrertary of State of Architecture, Construction and Monument Protection;  Tibor China architect, president of the Hajdu Bihar County Chamber of Architects

opens: Dr. István Puskás, Deputy Mayor of Debrence for Culture

finissage: 2021 11 28


The cívis used to be an autonomous, homogenous and closed community, their life was determined by their own legislation. The root of the word is the Latin civis, meaning citizen, civic. Their most important characteristics is that parallel to their urban civic life, they inherited their lifestyle from the local peasantry and agricultural lifestyle. While they were first and foremost manufacturers and traders, they could not separate themselves from the bond of soil. Each cívis had to cultivate their lands belonging to their houses on the outskirts.

The cívis is an ethnographic group in the Great Plain. They resided in many localities, e.g. in Hódmezővásárhely, Kecskemét, Nagykőrös, but their major civic communal society developed in Debrecen.

Architect Attila Harangi, as part of his diploma work in 2018, he created the cataster of the historic, one-floor dwellings in the center of Debrecen. In 2018, in 5 months he recorded and photographed all the surviving cívis houses and located them on a map. Since then he has been documenting the changes to them. In April 2018, he recorded 1540 dwellings or real estates that are still a cívis house to a certain extent.

Photographer Viktor Löki joined Harangi in 2019. The authors decided to carry out archival and architectural research and to include the documentation and recording of interior spaces, characteristic historic furniture, with the collection of interview and spoken histories of inhabitants, renters, or shop owners. In a frame of one and a half years, they managed to get into 16 cívis houses.


Funded by National Culture Fund and the Debrecen Municipality