Knorr–Bremse Research and Development Centre

Location: Budapest XI., Major utca 69.

Date of completion: 1999

Architect: SKARDELLI György

Associate architects: DUDÁS István, FARKAS Zsolt

Interior designer: PLACHTOVICS Vilmos

Landscape designer: HAVASSY Gabriella


Knorr–Bremse is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of braking systems. Due to the use of computers, the dynamically developed braking systems are mostly controlled by board computers. Technology helps the drivers a lot in handling special and critical situations. This know-how supports the devel­opment of the braking systems of the largest (both railway and road) vehicles as well and accordingly requires continuous software development. The software was designed by an out­standing Hungarian IT team, who had provided fundamental creative work for the global company, working among very poor conditions at the Faculty of Transportation Engineering of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. On account of his earlier preliminary design, György Skardelli was commissioned by the company to prepare the building permit drawings and the final construction drawings of the new centre in order to end this unfortunate situation.

The building has a dual function. Most of the floor-space is assigned for office work; software is basically designed here. On the ground floor of the building, there is a workshop with three stations installed with inspection pits, capable to accommodate even the largest trucks. The software is uploaded directly from the design table to the board computer of the vehicles for testing purposes. The impact of the software on the braking system is tested by the designers themselves in the workshop or on the outdoor test course, therefore feedback arrives quickly to the designers. The architectural concept of the building is based on this dual function. The traditional composition with a central corridor is almost ripped apart by the workshop with three stations installed at the central axis of the building. It creates a tension in the interior space and volume of the building, adjusting its image to the hightech activity. This important feature is conveyed to the viewers and business partners, so the building itself has become an advertising medium of the company.

This concept is also followed in the use of materials. The building is dominated by waterclear glass, its surface is articulated by metal divisions and brick facing at the ends. The glass turns over the corners, emphasizing the tension of the concept, just as the wide overhanging eaves of the half-gabled metal roof and the stainless steel air intake cones at the ends of the building. The brick facing on the end wall of the building and on the boundary wall of the site is a kind of reaction to the bus garage across the street, an outstanding example of the local industrial constructions. The building was awarded the Pro Architectura Prize of the Republic of Hungary in 2001 and the Pro Architectura Prize for the Best Building of the District by the District XI Municipality in 2002.