IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ARTÚR SZALATNAI-SLATINSKÝ

The name of Artúr Szalatnai-Slatinský is closely connected to the town of Trenčianske Teplice. He designed many small sanatoriums and other buildings of spa infrastructure in the town. Moreover, this architect of Jewish origin, Artúr comes from a village called Slatina nad Berbravou, which is situated directly behind the Machnáč hill. On account of his origin, Artúr changed his surname after his birthplace following the WWII. The portfolio of significant architecture of the first half of the 20th century includes so many buildings designed by one architect that it inevitably calls for a separate architectural tour dedicated to his work.   

After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the spa town had to face unfavourable circumstances. The spa tourism development suffered due to the collapse of the economic, social and political linkages to the demised monarchy and its Hungarian centre of Budapest, which used to greatly generate the clientele to the flourishing spa during the first decade of the 20th century.

After a period of stagnation, the ownership passed to a newly-formed Czechoslovak joint-stock company. Jan Topinka became the spa´s director in 1930. As can be seen today, his management was associated with the most significant period of the spa Trenčianske Teplice throughout its history. Followed by significant personalities, he revived the spirit of the spa,; which is still visible – he initiated constructions of new buildings designed in the modern spirit of functionalism. The director´s ambition was to transform the quaint spa town into a modern centre of balneology and recreation. Artúr Szalatnai-Slatinský was one of the architects who started to fulfil the ideas of this transformation. Working in Bratislava, he had already carried out several outstanding projects like the Orthodox synagogue in Heydukova street (1926), a block of flats in Mickiewiczova street (1926-27) and many detached houses. Artúr entered the architecture of Trenčianske Teplice with the building of sanatorium Esculap, namely its adaptation from its original form. Even though this building cannot be labelled as functionalist yet, it performs the contemporary tendency to envisage a new form, where simplicity and utilitarianism say the final farewell to ornamentality and decorativeness. This so-called utilitarian architecture is an evolution pre-stage to functionalism.  Trenčianske Teplice is hence a unique place hosting an overview of architecture evolution, telling the story from historism through utilitarianism to high functionalism of international importance like the sanatorium Machnáč and the outdoor swimming pool Zelená Žaba (Green Frog). The work of Artúr Szalatnai-Slatinský might be an important initiator to pave the way for these buildings. The Sina mirror pool indisputably belongs to outstanding European architecture and also to the examples of typical functionalism. Its extraordinary purpose makes it even more fascinating. 


Mirror pool Sina (Artur Szalatnai, 1929)                            

Sanatorium Esplanade, (Artur Szalatnai, 1934 - 34)              

Music pavilion (Artur Szalatnai, 1931)                          

Sanatorium Eskulap (Artur Szalatnai, around 1930)                        

Villa Irene (Smrek) (Artur Szalatnai, around 1930)