I am an urban researcher and urban explorer. If someone is interested in ‘more formal’ categories, I would call myself a sociologist (I also did math but didn’t practice it professionally).

My interest in the settlements developed during my university years in Szeged. My first job was at Buváti (Budapest Urban Planning Company), where I worked in the Scientific Research Group from 1975. This was led by István Szücs, but the most important in terms of professional development was the enthusiastic and cohesive team of 12 people. It was then that we have put together a booklet about the history of Budapest’s housing and urban development policy. This work of 3 years laid the foundation for my lifelong friendship with József Hegedüs (Jocó), with whom we have been working for 45 years. At that time, Dezső Ekler was also a member of the ‘inner circle’, before starting his own career, to become later renowned architect.

In the 1980s, we intensively researched with Jocó the housing system and participated in the Hungarian housing reform work. There was a moment in the mid-1980s when the decision makers discussed the Bokros-Surányi and Hegedüs-Tosics concepts one after the other. Our first foreign publication came out in 1983 – by that time I was already working at ÉGSZI, at the Independent Department of Housing Policy. An important moment was the friendship with the Swedish researcher Bengt Turner, which helped me to attend the first major pan-European housing research conference in 1986 in Gävle. Two years later, the European Network for Housing Research (ENHR) has been established, of which I was a founding member and I have been one of its Vice-Presidents for the last decade.

Our joint research with Jocó and our publications in English made us visible internationally just at the right moment. In 1989, when we founded Városkutatás Kft/Metropolitan Research Institute (which is still our main place of work), we immediately entered the field of the then re-established housing policy. In the first half of the 1990s we were able to work with experts of the World Bank and USAID, in the framework of the technical assistance programme to Hungary. In the meantime, we were able to do more and more work for Budapest, in which I could concentrate on different aspects of urban development. When the joint work with the Americans ended in 1997, the big tasks in planning for Budapest came: the Urban Rehabilitation Concept with Zoltán Erő and Lajos Koszorú, and the Urban Development Concept of Budapest, which was adopted by the Budapest General Assembly in 2003 after five years of great teamwork.

The working relationship with Budapest on urban development also reached an international level, when the capital city became member of the Eurocities city association in 1997. I was representing the city from a professional point of view in the process of becoming an EU member, which in the case of Budapest preceded the country’s accession to the EU (2004) with at least six years. In the 2000s, Budapest was first a ‘student’, learning the EU processes, but then in the second half of the decade it played an increasingly important role, first chairing the Eurocities Economic Development Committee and then becoming a member of the Executive Committee, the most important body of Eurocities.

The political changes of 2010, when right-wing politicians got in power on the national level and also in Budapest, marked a sudden and unwanted end of my close professional relationship with Budapest. Fortunately, based on its decades-long system of foreign relations, Metropolitan Research Institute was able to survive the dramatic change, as a result of which domestic contracts became essentially impossible – regardless of our significant professional successes so far. For me, the Paris-based, URBACT program gave new opportunities. In this EU-funded program, aiming for exchange of knowledge between cities, I worked first as a lead expert on projects and then as a program expert for the last almost ten years.