Kossuth Square Reconstruction – Visitor Centre and Museum of the Parliament, and Underground Garage

Location: Budapest V., Kossuth Lajos tér

Built: 2014

Senior architects: TIMA Zoltán, NÉMETH Tamás

Associate architects: SZABÓ Máté, MOLNÁR J. Tibor, TÖLGYESI Kaplony, MÉLYKÚTI-PAPP Dóra, RÁTI Orsolya

Landscape designer: S73 Kft.

 

The location of the independent Hungarian Parliament was largely determined by the fact that the undeveloped areas in downtown Budapest (as they understood the term at that time) had already been used up by 1880, when the competition was announced for the design of the Parliament. Due to the quick development of Pest, the confines of the downtown area had reached the outskirts of the city, where the urban development concepts could still provide a nearly 7 and a half hectare area for the building and its surroundings, fitting to the size and significance of the Parliament. This very large area was unique in a European comparison and its significance was further increased by the purposeful contemporary urban development, i.e. the fact that the building of the Supreme Court (designed by Alajos Hauszmann) and the building of the ­Ministry of Agriculture (designed by Gyula Bukovics) were built on the longer eastern side of the square in 1886 and 1887, ­almost simultaneously with the construction of the Parliament (1885–1904), designed by Imre Steindl. All these facts prove that it was an important requirement already at that time that the square should form a “constitutional triangle”.

The relationship of the limiting walls of the square and the Parliament building, the axes of the connecting streets, the views to and from the square result in a very exciting and dyna­mical basic geometry. The history of the changes in the square are accompanied by a series of efforts to correct the various angle differences visually. The asymmetry of the eastern part of the square and the different angles of the longitudinal axes of Alkotmány Street and the Parliament have generated numerous architectural solutions, which have never been built. The statues have also been crucial in the history of the square. Their locations had already been planned immediately after the construction of the Parliament and various concepts were born concerning the furnishing of the square, especially in relation to the statues. The development of the uniform image of the square was made more difficult by the erection of the Andrássy statue, in 1906 and later by the erection of other monuments (Lajos Kossuth, István Tisza, Ferenc Rákóczi II). ­Almost 110 years passed after the construction of the Par­-lia­ment, when the opportunity arose for the first time to create a uniform image for the triple square around the building, though it had already been suggested by Imre Steindl in his competition design. Besides the above-mentioned historical foundations, Kossuth Square, before the reconstruction, had not met the standards required by the Parliament and the important public buildings around the square, either in form or in function. The overwhelming vehicular traffic of the square was unmanageable, the huge paved road and parking areas made the square unliveable and the tracing of the tramway track, reflecting an engineering approach, occupied valuable areas in several places.

The decent reception of the annual 400 to 450 000 visitors of the Parliament building was also unsolved: in lack of any basic infrastructural background, the tourist groups had to wait for admission to the building under the open sky. The new Kossuth Square – befitting the quality and the dignity of the Parliament and incorporating the square into a low-key contemporary framework – was formed in the know­ledge of historical prototypes and the geometry of the square. The design has redefined the functional content of the square, re-established the historical hierarchy between the different sections and contributed to the dominance of pedestrians by eliminating vehicular traffic and the parking areas. A visitor centre has been constructed under the northern part of the square in order to receive and inform the visitors of the Parliament and a three-storey garage has been built underground. The new promenade along the river resulted in a more intensive relationship between the square and the lower embankment. The spiritual centre of the nation’s main square is marked by the National Flag, placed at the axis of the Parliament and Alkotmány Street.

 

 

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