Imre Makovecz was born in Budapest on 20 November 1935.
He spent childhood summers at his paternal grandparents’ house in Nagykapornak, learning to love the landscape and gathering memories and experiences that would remain with him his whole life (Lovely Geography).
He studied at the Németvölgyi út Primary School, then the Petőfi Grammar School, and later graduated from the Budapest University of Technology.
An active sportsman at grammar school, Makovecz played first division handball and won the Hungarian national league title. He gave up top level sports after starting university, but continued for fun in the lower leagues for several years.
The 1956 revolution in Hungary was a decisive event in Makovecz’s life. With other students, he was an active participant in the revolution: he was punished with suspension from his studies and as a consequence only graduated in 1959. He took his first professional job later that same year, at the BUVÁTI architectural office.
In 1962 he joined the SZÖVTERV state design office, where he was mostly tasked with the design of restaurant buildings and traditional Hungarian restaurants known as “csárdas”. The “Cápa vendéglő” in Velence and the “Sió-csárda” in Szekszárd are from that period.
In 1964, he travelled to Switzerland to visit the Goetheanum and to study first hand the work and approach of Rudolf Steiner.
In 1969, he was awarded the Ybl Prize, a prestigious Hungarian award for architectural design excellence.
In 1970 he performed his highly influential ‘movement experiments’ that subsequently had a profound influence on his own work. It was at this time that Makovecz first visited iconic Hungarian architect Károly Kós.
In 1971 he joined VÁTI, another state design office. There he designed the Sárospatak House of Culture and Education in 1972, a building that received international recognition. It was his uncompromising struggle for quality in that building that set him on a collision course with his superiors. The conflict ended with Makovecz’s departure to the Pilis Mountains Forestry Department in 1977. The Forestry also took part in the construction of the Sárospatak building, thus he had the opportunity to supervise also in the post-Váti years.
From 1974, Makovecz developed a lasting fascination with the study of folk art patterns, searching for similarities in the symbolic systems of different cultures (yang-yin, triskell, etc.)
1981 saw his first ever exhibition abroad: in Finland (he would later be invited to exhibit his works in countless countries). Also in that year, he first organized the Visegrád Camp for young architecture students.
In 1983 the MAKONA architect design office was formed.
At the Cairo conference of the International Society of Architectural Critics, the Sárospatak House of Culture and Education was voted one of the ten most significant buildings of the previous decade.
In 1989, Imre Makovecz was decorated as an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects. In cooperation with István Kálmán and Miklós Kampis, Makovecz founded the Károly Kós Association, which later launched the Traveling School.
In 1990, Imre Makovecz was awarded the most prestigious cultural award in Hungary, the Kossuth Prize. MAKONA split into several small, independent design offices that sustained close collaboration. The periodical Országépítő [Country Builder] was launched in that year; during a trip to Budapest, Prince Charles of Wales visited Imre Makovecz at his home.
In 1992 the Hungarian pavilion of the Sevilla World Expo was a huge international success.
In 1993, the Hungarian Academy of Arts was founded. In the same year, it signed an educational cooperation agreement with the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture and was invited to take part in the tender for renovating Windsor Castle after the 1992 fire.
In 1996, the Kecske utca office building was constructed. To this day, it accommodates MAKONA and several of its “associated” architect offices. It was also the seat of the Hungarian Academy of Arts until it became a public body.
In 1997, Imre Makovecz was awarded the Grande Medal d’Or of the French Academy of Architecture.
In 1998, he became an honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
In 2001, he was awarded the Corvin Chain. With his associates he prepared architectural designs free of charge for the restoration efforts following the floods in Bereg (northeast Hungary).
In 2005, he designed the “Church of Resurrection” to be built on the Buda side of Budapest (in the area known as upper Krisztinaváros).
In 2010, he helped Hungarian flood and ‘red sludge’ disaster victims with architectural designs for new homes.
In 2011, commemorating the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s sanctification as a priest, the Vatican organized an exhibition of works of whom the Pope considered the 60 most significant Christian artists. Imre Makovecz was one of the invited artists and he chose to exhibit the “Church of Resurrection” designs. The Holy Father blessed both the designs and their architect.
Imre Makovecz passed away on 27 September 2011.