Budapest Sports Arena and urban square

Senior architects: SKARDELLI György, POTTYONDY Péter

The original Budapest Sports Arena burned down at the end of 1999. The new arena building and the reconstruction of its surroundings had an integrated architectural design concept and they were built in only 18 months. The new Budapest Sports Arena has become one of the largest and most important public buildings of the country. It is a suitable venue for sports and cultural events, conferences, exhibitions and special entertainment shows. The maximum capacity of the square and the building is 12.500 spectators.

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The various existing functions in the surrounding area (a large public parking area, a long distance bus station, a post office, a hotel and a metro station with two exits) had to be incorporated in the new design, integrated with the extra parking areas required and the considerable service traffic of the new arena. Moreover, a new urban square had to be established around the building to provide worthy surroundings and a possible new public centre for the district.

The architectural composition consists of three elements: the Square, elevated about six meters above its surroundings, the dominant Arena and the Crystals, which accommodate the service functions. The Square provides a worthy access and surroundings to the Arena and separates the pedestrian areas from the parking, service and delivery traffic located below the pedestrian level. Access to the Square is through ramps, steps and stepped ramps, starting from the main traffic junction. The different paved areas of the Square are divided by large planted areas complete with trees. The plane of the Square is broken by several sharp Crystals - housing a cafeteria, a shop, an exhibition, or a staircase - in strong contrast with the huge, streamlined volume of the Arena. Some of the Crystals provide access to the Square from the parking levels through staircases and lifts. The most important, ruling element of the architectural composition is the Arena, which starts six meters below and it is connected to the Square by bridges. The great, aluminium-clad volume with its metallic shine appears without a fault from its lowest point to the top. The necessary strip windows and outdoor mechanical spaces are hidden behind louvred elements following the contour of the building. The side entrances are particularly shaped slits with doors deep inside. The glazed main entrance is cut out of the streamlined body like a huge mouth, reflecing the sunlight in the daytime and radiating light at night.

The public has nicknamed the building ’Pebble’ owing to its characteristic form, though its total weight is more than 200.000 tons. The pedestrian square is not only a meeting point, but it is also the largest granite paved area in Hungary, the 15.000 m2 square is the ideal location for different urban recreational activities. Besides the regular sports events, exhibitions and conferences, the arena also hosted concerts of international stars in the past years, such as the Queen, Ennio Morricone, or Sting, it has become one of the important venues of international cultural projects.

Location: Budapest XIV., Stefánia út 2.

Date of completion: 2003

Senior architects: SKARDELLI György, POTTYONDY Péter

Associate architects: GÁSPÁR László, LÁZÁR Ferenc, MOLNÁR J. Tibor, DUDÁS István, FARKAS Zsolt, RADVÁNYI Katalin, TARNÓCZKYNÉ BÁLINT Andrea, KÁDAS Eszter, KONCZ Zsuzsa, NÁDAINÉ KOVÁCS Sarolta

Project manager architect: SZABADOS László

Interior designer: PLACHTOVICS Vilmos

Landscape designer: HAVASSY Gabriella

Area: 132 000 m2