SOS Children’s Village

Location: Kőszeg, Sigray Jakab utca 3.

Date of completion: 1993

Senior architects: SKARDELLI György, TORDAY Krisztina

Interior designers: PLACHTOVICS Vilmos, MÁRKUS Gábor

Landscape designer: HAVASSY Gabriella



After Battonya and Kecskemét, the Association of SOS Chil­dren’s Village Hungary wanted to build a new institute for ­orphans, who have a difficult life, along the western border in Kőszeg. A restricted national design competition was an­nounced in order to select the designer of the new facility. The competition was won by KÖZTI’s designer team, headed by György Skardelli.

In the German-speaking areas after World War II, many child­ren became orphans and many women also lost their husbands, who had been the breadwinners in their families. The life of these children and women seemed to be hopeless in Germany and Austria at that time. Realizing this, Hermann Gmeiner drew up his idea to establish an institute from donations (even very small ones, just one Deutschmark from everybody!), where orphans and single women could find a new home. This is how the first children’s village was established, which has grown into an international organization – SOS Kinderdorf International – involving more than 300 villages worldwide. The objective is that children should grow up among family-like circumstances in single-family homes, ­surrounded by the affection and care of foster-mothers. The ­mothers do their job as single women under a contract (even lifelong), among the circumstances provided by the ­association. The children live in this village, but they go to school together with the other children of the local community. ­However, it is not the only place where the children can meet each other. The fundamental principles include that the little residents of the children's village should live the same way – according to the possibilities – as their peers outside the village. It is a really important aspect, since the children only stay in the village until they are 18 or 19, but their life is follow­ed up even afterwards and if necessary, they are assisted in their smooth integration into the society. The grown up chil­dren return to the village to visit their foster-mother, their “brothers and sisters”, and to attend various events.

The children's village in Kőszeg was established according to the above-mentioned principles. The major functions have been accommodated in different buildings. There are eight single-family houses, a community centre, a workshop, a kin­der­garten, a house for assistant mothers, the house of the deputy head of the village and the house of the head of the village, located among the single-family houses. The buildings have been concentrated by the architectural concept on the high entry point of the rather large plot and their layout reflects a kind of hierarchy resembling the spatial structure of a small town. The grouping of the buildings, their relationship with each other and the spaces around them, all the compon­ents have been organised around this small town atmosphere. Visitors arrive from the entrance to a long square, surrounded by “public buildings”. Walking past these buildings, one arrives to the single-family houses, situated in the second circle, built in an unbroken row, just as the public buildings, similar to the residential houses on the main square of a small town. A ­castle-like playground and a sports-ground have also been built, used by villagers and “outsider” children alike.