The reconstruction of Kálvin Square is an important example of the urban changes generated by the construction of Metro Line 4 all over the city. This square, which had gradually deteriorated into a traffic junction since World War II, became a real urban square of the downtown again. The pedestrian area, enlarged by regained road surfaces, can be reconquered by the citizens, the pedestrians, the strollers, the window-shoppers, the guests of restaurant and cafe terraces or those who are waiting for someone.
The construction of Metro Line 4 has generated changes all over the city above ground level, as well. One of the major changes took place along the Kiskörút (Small Boulevard) section between Astoria and the Pest end of Liberty Bridge. Kálvin Square is an important element in this row of urban spaces. The square had developed through several centuries in front of the Kecskemét Gate of the historic town centre, close to the river transport facilities on the Danube. The original market place had evolved gradually during the rise of the bourgeois society and eventually it was upgraded to an urban square. In the 19th century, the importance of Kálvin Square was established by the construction of the Hungarian National Museum and the neighbouring aristocratic Palace District. Residential buildings were built in the vicinity of the Calvinist church on the square, including some houses designed by Miklós Ybl. The square and the surrounding rows of buildings were badly damaged during World War II. There were vacant lots around the square for a long time after the ruins had been demolished. Vehicle traffic had gradually increased and the last blow was given by the construction of Metro Line 3, when the pedestrians were permanently forced underground into the large passage built under the square. The square was in a very poor condition, pedestrians couldn’t use it any more. The former market place in front of the city gate, the later urban square decorated with an ornate fountain had been gradually downgraded to a traffic junction during the post-war decades.
Design began with the reconsideration of the square. A new concept had to be developed after clearing up the area completely, taking a new traffic system into consideration: the five-way junction of the square was to be reduced to a four-way one and Mikszáth Square and Kecskeméti Street were to be connected with a new pedestrian axis. The concept was based on creating a livable urban square. The new, paved pedestrian areas allow the reviving shops and cafes on the ground floor of the surrounding buildings to move out with their terraces onto the square. The pedestrians can walk around the square, change directions as they wish, people watch or even gather. New meeting points can be established, facilitated by the several hundred meter long, specially shaped cast stone benches bordering the planted areas. The special, K-shaped flagstones of the uniform pavement evoke the layout of the historic downtown and the route of the Kiskörút. This unique pavement, consisting of concave and convex elements, continues as far as Fővám Square and Károly Boulevard, through Astoria. The intended uniformity is reinforced by the row of lamp posts, coordinated with the character of the surrounding historic buildings. The lamp posts took over the function of all those other posts, which had been removed from the square. The number of the stairs leading to the underground pedestrian area was reduced, they are sensibly located and protected from the rain by peculiarly shaped steel and glass roofs. In the uncluttered square, these unique elements clearly mark the way down to the underground passage area on the one hand and provide a kind of transition between the protected world of the underground area and the open-air on the other hand. The vegetation of the square consists of some old trees, new trees in planters and raised planted areas, bordered by continuous benches.
Location: Budapest, junction of V., VIII., IX. districts Built: 2012 Architect: SKARDELLI György Associate architects: BORBÉLY András, CSÍZY László, GÁSPÁR László, PETRI Dávid Landscape architects: MOHÁCSI Sándor, BALOGH Péter István (S73 Kft.) Area: 20,000 m2