EIFFEL ART STUDIOS – NEW ART COMPLEX OF THE OPERA HOUSE
Architect: MAROSI Miklós
A new art complex has been born on the location of the former Northern Railway Maintenance Yard, which meets the need of the Opera for the production of stage sets and costumes, provides space for theatrical and orchestral rehearsals and performances, moreover, it is an attraction on its own right, with a visitor centre, so the public can get a glimpse of the special secrets of these art forms. The public spaces of the complex are suitable venues for different events.
Most important building of the former industrial rust belt along Kőbányai Road, the Eiffel Hall was built in the 1880s and it was a sanctum of Hungarian railway history, it had been a repair hall for 124 years, up to 2009. The gigantic hall was declared a historic monument in 2011 and it has been converted into the new workshop, storage and rehearsal centre of the Hungarian State Opera House and the Erkel Theatre. Owing to the regulations concerning historic monuments, it was very difficult for the architects to accommodate the many different functions in a former railway hall. They had to get acquainted with the trade secrets of opera and ballet to be able to create spaces that fulfill all the special demands.
The basilical Eiffel Hall, with a nave and two aisles on each side, opens towards Kőbányai Road. The great entrance hall is located in the nave, where the glory of the riveted steel structure and the transparent polycarbonate roof is fully visible. A rare treasure of railway history, a renovated steam locomotive from 1912 decorates the entrance hall, its period dining car serves as a restaurant. High doors on both sides of the hall lead to the stage, the rehearsal halls and a studio-quality orchestral rehearsal room, located in the adjoining aisles of higher clearance. The seats of the auditorium can be pushed into the back wall, the orchestra pit can be elevated flush to floor level and all the high doors can be opened to extend the entrance hall, so this great, flexible area can be the venue of any kind of events. The lateral aisles accommodate the changing rooms for the artists and staff; the carpenter, locksmith and sculpture workshops and the storerooms for theatrical props. Further high clearance areas of the aisles have been divided vertically by new floor slabs, providing place for differeent dressing rooms, sewing workshops and recreation areas. In some places, where the function justified it, the amazing high clearance of the hall has been preserved, e.g. in the stage set container stores and the stage set painting workshops, where the original structure can also be fully admired. Next to the Eiffel Hall, the opera studio has been established in an old, protected building, where the artists can practice; small scale chamber concerts and master courses can be organized. The former forklift repair building has been transformed into an up-to-date costume storage area and accommodates the shoemaker and millinery workshops as well. The originally single floor smithy building became the building management centre of the establishment. The most important material in the interior is fair-faced concrete, both as floor and wall finish, which allows the display of the amazing, riveted steel structure of the building. It was a special and very demanding task to design a building which meets all the infrastructural requirements of modern times and preserves the historic ambience of the great railway repair hall at the same time.
The Eiffel Hall is larger than the Parliament, its area is 25,000 m2, about the equivalent of three and a half football fields. The reason it was named Eiffel Hall was not due to the personal contribution of Gustave Eiffel in its birth, but because it was built with similar technology as the Eiffel Tower. Instead of weldable Siemens steel, it was built of riveted steel elements, so the replacements, necessary for the reconstruction, were much easier to achieve. When inspected thoroughly, it turned out that more than 90% of the steel elements were in excellent condition, they had survived the world wars and the 1956 revolution undamaged. Owing to the enormous clear height of the building, one can watch the work of the costume makers, painters, sculptors, locksmiths and carpenters from the catwalk under the roof.
Location: Budapest X. Kőbányai út 30. Date of completion: 2020 Architect: MAROSI Miklós Area: 33,810 m2