KOSSUTH SQUARE RECONSTRUCTION – VISITOR CENTRE, MUSEUM OF THE PARLIAMENT, UNDERGROUND PARKING
Architects: TIMA Zoltán, NÉMETH Tamás
Almost 110 years had passed after the construction of the Parliament, when the opportunity arose for the first time to give a uniform image to the triple square around the building, as it had already been suggested by Imre Steindl in his competition design. The most important result of the reconstruction is the frequent, lively use by the people, a high quality urban square with a public function, complete with a contemporary service building.
The extensive area of Kossuth Square, unique even in a European comparison, and the surrounding important public buildings are the result of a purposeful urban development at the end of the 19th century. The relationship between the bordering walls of the square and the Parliament building, the direction of the axes of the connecting streets, the views to and from the square result in a very exciting and dynamic geometry. The history of the square has been accompanied by a series of efforts to correct the various visual angle differences, and the different statues of the square (Andrássy Gyula, Kossuth Lajos, Tisza István, II. Rákóczi Ferenc) had also crucial roles in the changes. There have always been many, sometimes conflicting, expectations concerning the square: it is an urban traffic area, a location of representative national functions, an urban square for public use and a security zone around the Parliament at the same time. These expectations, combined with the historic political trends have resulted in continuous changes in the image and use of the square.
Kossuth Square, before the reconstruction, had not met the standards required by the Parliament and the important public buildings around the square any more, either in its form or in function. The overwhelming vehicular traffic, the huge paved road and parking areas made the square unliveable and occupied valuable areas. The decent management of the close to half million annual visitors was also unsolved: in lack of any basic infrastructural background, the tourist groups had to wait for admission to the Parliament building under the open sky.
The new Kossuth Square, surrounding the Parliament with an understated contemporary ambience befitting the quality and dignity of the building, has been created with consideration to its historical prototypes and the geometry of the square. The design has redefined the functional content of the square, re-established the historic hierarchy between the different parts and created a dominance of pedestrian traffic by eliminating through traffic and all the parking areas. The track of the No.2 tram has been renewed as well. A visitor centre to receive and inform the visitors of the Parliament has been built under the northern part of the square, as well as a three-level underground parking place, so the visual unity of the square has been preserved. The new, upper walkway along the riverside facade of the parliament resulted in a more intensive relationship between the square and the lower quay and now the building can be walked around.
The whole area of the square has been renewed, the extensive asphalt surfaces have disappeared, there is natural stone paving now and street furniture of a uniform style. Landscaping has been thoughtful and it is easy to maintain, about the half of the 23,000 m2 green areas is lawn. There is an ornamental pool towards Alkotmány Street, the spiritual centre of the nation’s main square is marked by the national flag placed at its axis. The visitor centre and the parking area below it has been built under the northern part of the square. The visitor centre accommodates information and ticket counters, a caffeteria, restrooms and a souvenir shop. The exhibition on the history of the Hungarian parliaments opens from here and this is the starting point for the guided visits to the Parliament building, accessed through underground corridors. The arrangement of spaces, the simple but high quality materials and the visible historic brick walls of the underground corridors result in a clear and elegant ambience. The exhibition hall under the northern courtyard of the Parliament building has glass roof, so, besides the exhibited documents, the underground space itself has also become an attraction.
Location: Budapest V., Kossuth Lajos tér Built: 2014 Architects: TIMA Zoltán, NÉMETH Tamás Associate architercts: SZABÓ Máté, MOLNÁR J. Tibor, TÖLGYESI Kaplony, MÉLYKÚTI-PAPP Dóra, RÁTI Orsolya Landscape architect: S73 Kft. Area – square: 75,000 m2 Area – buildings: 26,500 m2