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The Rombauer Project

Through one and a half century the name of zd was practically a synonym for metallurgy. The iron and steel works first as Rima-Murny Company, later as zd Iron and Steel Works were the essence, the pith of the town. With the fall of heavy industry this cohesion passed away, by the 21st century only its traces remained. However, the unique and special regional culture with matchless buildings, cultural heritage and ethos lives on, together with the wonderful landscape, they can be a basis for an overall renewal of zd. The new management of the town enjoying a broad political espousal has brought new dynamism, the Rombauer Plan is intended to open a new chapter in the life of the town, and the recovery of the late Steel Town can be a model project in the strengthened Hungary.

Tivadar Rombauer
The founder of the iron and steel works (1846) was one of the foremost engineers of his ages. He completed his studies in Selmecbnya, then he became the executive of the alum works at Munkcs region. Then he spent a longer time abroad. Returning home he was assigned to executive of Rimai Coalitio and played key role in founding the metallurgical works in zd. Utilizing the iron ore of Gmr county, the wood-charcoal and later mineral carbon of Borsod county he created heavy industry from stratch: with masters from foreign countries and with local man-power he built the factory in half a year, as early as 1848 the factory provided the Hungarian Independence War with mines and gun-barrels. Lajos Batthyny prime minister picked out Rombauers excellent talents in effective organizing and assigned him to the executive of the department of industry in the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce. During the Hungarian Independence War Rombauer was the executive of the National Weapons Works in Pest. After the fall af the independence war he emigrated to North America and died in New Buda near Davenport in 1855.

zd-Velence street view

Before 1945 the recovery of zd was owing to the comprehensive social and cultural politics of Rima-Murny Co. These traditions survived even in the decades of the communist regime and characterized everyday life. The direction of the company provided such unprecedented services to their workers that organized labor movements simply did not develop. It was fine to belong to zd and to the factory of zd; in such a well-arranged strucure everyone found his or her place. The Rima Company built 19 housing estates for the work-

zd Bath

zd Main street view with the Town Hall

ers with the same standards as those in England in that times. One of these housing estates Velence Estate still today is a crucial item of any European architecture guidebook. For the managers an officers mess, for the workers a huge cultural center were built in secessionist style, with the sixth largest theater hall, offering place for intensive cultural life of the workers. Among others, an amateur theater company, a choir both of national significance , a brass and reed band, a wrestling club, a flying-club, a reading circle and a football club hustled. Sports activities included even the opportunity for the workers to play tennis. Here was built the rural Hungarys first covered swim-

ming pool with Turkish bath. The Rima Company founded Hungarys first company-financed school and introduced local compulsory school attendance. It was zd where the first eight-classes education started in Hungary. Schoolchildren were supported by a scholarship system, factory foremen took their holiday in Abbazia at the Mediterranean seaside. Due to the excellent circumstances and communal life the workers in zd recognized their interests and sticked to the achievements. It is evidenced by the fact that in the revolution in 1956 it was in zd where workers councils held out the farthest, until December of 1956. The ethnic composition of zd Palc, German, Slavic, later Gipsy elements, complementing one another created a unique web of the regional society, culture and identity in which the elements support one another mutually. At the same time the smelters consciousness was accompanied with a special mentality which accepted and demanded the social support from above. This philosophy became indefensible in the times of the change in regime in the 1990s when metallurgy went bankrupt. But a strong handed and determined town management which knows the people living here can build upon this stubborn mentality successfully.

In the last twenty years before the Rombauer Plan several fruitless or only partially successful initiatives took place to manage the crisis in zd. The deep problems the extremely high unemployment rate, the weakness of the entrepreneurs sphere, the deepening Gipsy problematics, the successlessness of the town management in most cases extinguished the getaway attempts. Certain isolated achievements have been reached for example in the field of infrastructure developing, qualifying the valuable buildings to be ancient technological monuments, integration of the Roma, but in lack of a comprehensive conception and in lack of financial resources the urbanistic renascence and the economic getaway failed. The Rombauer Plan intends to take on these initiatives, focusing on the given heritage and capabilities in zd and focusing on special character-giving features instead of too general approach.

Main directions
zd should be a heavy industry open-air museum town (treasure of unique buildings concentrated on a relatively small area which could be exhibited easily; common urban area instead of dead ruins; utilization of the industrial areas for community and cultural goals; technological open -air museum; adventure park of metallurgical issues; ruin pub; dixieland festival in the huge hall of the steel works;the converting the old swimming pool into a wellness center; utilization of the blast apparatus hall to cultural events; zd as a green town (renewable energies; bio-heating works; energy reed; bio-farming; the town with the cleanest air in Hungary; the most protected town in the country in natural and weather points of view; rest tourism; health industry; colonies for retirement community services) zd as the center of the region (comprehensive regional strategy; organic cross-border cooperation with Gmr county in Slovakia; connecting to the wine and bath tourism in Borsod and Heves counties; developing a special own touristical character on the basis of the industrial traditions and the natural character with the lakes here; renewing the traditional grazing culture; tourism based on the

technological heritage; creation of thematical valleys, study trails and special tour paths); zd as a town development laboratory (creation of a new town center and main square on the place of the industrial ruins; panel block house reconstruction program; industrial heritage protection program; integration of industrial buildings and equipment into the system of study trips of students; renewal of infrastructure; creation of three own gates in the directions of Miskolc, Eger and Budapest); zd as model town of the Szchenyi Plan with a mini New Deal (creation of new workplaces; supporting enterprises with state investments, with community participation). zd as a positive example of integration of the Roma (pre-school education model program; arts model program for Gipsies; special workplace creation project; canalization of self-organization of the Gipsies in developing the town; Consider zd as your own). zd as cultural center (cultivation of the Rima cult; dixieland festival; organized presence of famous zd people in the national media; portrait movie on Bla Marschalk, famous architect of the town); period movie on the romantic life of Tivadar Rombauer)

The Rombauer Plan is a comprehensive and integrated Hungarian model project on the areas of economy, culture, education, social welfare and environment protection. zd is the best region for this positive social and economic experiment. We start from deep, but we can rise back to the old heights; within a decade we can become a model for Hungary or Europe as well.

zd 2010

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