Budapest Liget International Competition : Hungarian Museum of Architecture

Our proposal, for the Hungarian Museum of Architecture and for the PhotoMuzeum, is a creative response to its significant location and to the ambition of the Liget Budapest project.

The project’s location, at the entrance to one of the oldest parks in Budapest, suggests a certain grandeur, presence and formality. The ambition, to create a new cultural hub in the heart of the city, requires dynamism, public engagement and openness to change. The project also occupies an edge, between city and nature. These factors create a powerful play of opposites, which is the inspiration for our concept.  We propose a pair of pavilions, whose outlines and siting are symmetrical at the entrance axis to the park, like classical gatehouses. At the same time, each is a positive/negative version of the other. What is solid in one is void in the other. Dynamism and tension is introduced into the formality and grandeur. The play of opposites then continues, with strong contrasts of heavy and light, open and closed, shiny and rough. The main entrance to the FotoMuzeum is by an upward slope; you enter the Hungarian Museum of Architecture by a downward ramp.  Both buildings are conceived as suspended exhibition spaces with non-enclosed levels. In each an enclosed, hovering volume is supported on three structural cores containing vertical circulation and by a delicate perimeter grid of steel structural elements. This complementary structure appears disordered, but follows precise rules, like a man-made version of the trees in the park, a kind of artificial nature. Each building invites the public into generous open spaces – the atrium in the FotoMuzeum and the ground plane and roof terrace of the Hungarian Museum of Architecture – which are open to continuous reinterpretation and change. They can be used for installations, events, film screenings, dinners, parties or simply as places in which to wander and rest. From these spaces the surrounding park and city can be experienced in new ways.  The materiality is sensuous and fascinating. The reflective soffit of the FotoMuzeum will be animated with reflections of the public and the movements of traffic and nature. On the Hungarian Museum of Architecture an exterior of concrete with oxide will create an earthy texture, rich in browns and reds (for which an artist commission is envisaged e.g artist Ania Soliman). The delicate steel structures will be painted white to enhance their contract with the more massive forms. Pavements and interiors are white. At the same time our concept is fundamentally simple. We propose exhibition spaces which can be configured and operated in ways that have been tested by time, as well as allowing innovation. These buildings, although architecturally powerful, will not dictate to curators. They welcome interpretationand adaptation.

Concept and Description

The two Museums are comparable in footprint, height and program. Juxtaposed notions of symmetry and asymmetry, gravity and levity, positive and negative built and (inhabited) void are key to the thinking behind the buildings. Thus, their massing challenges and enacts in a forward looking way – the traditional notion of entrance.The massing concept is similar in both buildings but through an inversion creates an effect of positive/negative, build and void. Both buildings are conceived as suspended exhibition spaces with non-enclosed levels – inverted the voids contain public atriums on the ground floor and an inhabitable rooftop.  FotoMuzeum, on the left, has four enclosed storeys and two non-enclosed levels providing a generous outdoor atrium for public events, exhibits, show case for collections and museum activities. The atriums floor is gently inclined to invite a free flowing circulation and occupation.Three central cores – containing circulations – support a raised 2-storeys box hosting the main exhibition spaces and receiving zenithal light. The box is covered with a reflective skin – a multi-faceted polished steel, the colour of copper reflecting and multiplying the surrounding landscape, and in the space below, the enclosed exhibits. This skin wraps the box to cover the ceiling below, with a continuous faceted pattern. A series of structural steel elements – the secondary structure – surrounds the building as a continuous curtain. It’s painted in white to contrast with the skin. Pavements and interiors are white. Interior spaces are fluid and can easily accommodate and rationally display permanent and temporary collections.  The opposite building on the right the Hungarian Museum of Architecture equally has four enclosed storeys and two non-enclosed levels including a cantilevered space on the ground floor and a rooftop. The balance of built and void, raised boxes and atriums is expressed as inversions.  Public functions and events may be accommodated in the covered ground level whose ceiling is reflective. The access to this building is through an inclined plan, the inverse of the access in the other building, an inverted movement (down vs. up).

Three structural cores support a raised 2-storeys high massive/bunker-like raised concrete box (only one side of which is open ceiling to floor) and surrounded by a contrasting white, delicate structure of pillars that form a roof canopy (inverted public space). This continuous perimetral steel framed structure surrounds the building  and supports the sculptural rooftop structure. Its function is to hold outdoor exhibition materials (such us models or installations for permanent or temporary exhibits or temporary canopies for events) and host public events. The concrete box has a sensual ossido-like texture, with colors ranging from browns to reds contrasting with the mirrored skin of the FotoMuzeum.The ceiling  below the box is white and reflective.

In both buildings the three cores connect the various program areas: exhibition, events, library, offices, and storages/reserves. The exhibition space, the primary function, inhabits the raised boxes. But it also extends to the non-enclosed levels providing flexible and fluid spaces for public events, exhibition, openings and occasions. The use of materials in these spaces shows the potential continuity in the program.

Site

Located at the edge of both the urban city and Városliget (City Park), the site naturally acts as a transitional zone between the two bodies. This proposal identifies this relationship as the primary discourse in examination of the site. Currently, the monument 56-os emlékmű operates as a visual terminus for the main street Városligeti fasor and also acts as a gathering point for pedestrians. The proposed buildings outline the existing space while breathing life into it. The plaza will then be bordered by a view to the park, a view to the city, and the two museums. The two corresponding facades will ‘open’ up to Ötvenhatosok tere- where the main entryways to the buildings are most accessible. From this space, one can approach either museum through a large public incline/decline. These slopes integrate the buildings with the site allowing for a seamless access entry point. The experience of the pedestrian is prioritized as vehicular access can be found through below grade access points. Naturally the two buildings act as a visual gateway into the park or into the city. This feature is augmented by the experience of the buildings where elevated atriums give way to perspectival views of both the city and the park. Whether the buildings are experienced from the exterior or from the interior the function of these structures will cultivate and contribute to the cultural significance of the park.

Structure

Predominantly constructed in structural steel, the conceived buildings are composed of three main components: 1. the Structural Cores, 2. the Orthogonal Raised Box and 3. the Secondary Supporting Structure. These three components are all set in a 5 x 5 m structural grid with a maximum span of 25m. The two buildings contain a tripod of structural cores.

The overall stability of the building is assured by the tripod of the rigid cores, perfectly positioned to minimize the flexion induced by horizontal loads. Each of the three cores is built on concrete piles. The loads are transferred to the piles trough a transfer slab. This type of foundation minimises settlement and ensures a good footing for the structure. These 5 x 10 m cores not only contain the main vertical circulation, they simultaneously act as the primary structural load bearer. Minimizing the flexion induced by horizontal loads, the cores are positioned to naturally take advantage of the stability of a tripod. The cores are composed of reinforced concrete where structural loads of the buildings are transferred to piles through a transfer slab, thus minimizing settlement. Each of these cores extend from the lowest level (-5 m below grade for the FotoMuzeum, -10 m below grade for the Hungarian Museum of Architecture) to the highest point (+25 m above grade for both buildings). Together, the three structural cores uphold orthogonal 10 m tall boxes that carry many of the programs. These raised boxes employ the ubiquitous knowledge of rectilinear steel and reinforced concrete construction. The perimeter of the box is given the bulk of the structural load, freeing the interior of columns to allow for flexibility for the spaces/programs/exhibitions. Lastly, a secondary supporting structure further stabilizes the buildings. Visible on the elevations, the vertical columns populate the perimeter of the building at a systematized 5 m interval. This is accompanied by a non-traditional treatment of vertical triangular supports. The composition allows for possibilities for exhibitions to be displayed on the exterior while being sheltered. Overall, each building has four enclosed storeys and two non-enclosed levels. Each of the enclosed storeys contains the programming, while the non-enclosed levels can host outdoor exhibitions. In the case of the Hungarian Museum of Architecture, the secondary supporting structure extends itself to sculpturally encase a space providing opportunists to furnish the space with outdoor architecture exhibition materials. Intertwined with the programming of the buildings, the structure operates in parallel to life of the two museums.

Operation and technology

The museums will become part of the Városliget park, furthermore they will mark the entrance. Our proposal seeks to minimize the project’s impact on the environment and to insure an optimum quality of life for both the interior and exterior. This requires a long term vision that operates on various scales. Considerations were given to the life-cycle of the project which took into account not just the operation of the buildings but also its construction and dismantling. The two buildings will limit their respective footprints by developing vertical schemes that integrate exterior public and exhibition spaces in the voids of the same footprint. The compactness of our project is a way to reduce the consumption of materials, of energy and of money. The impact of the construction process on the site will be limited based on design decisions and selection of materials. Construction work will be done on a remote dry site using prefabricated elements this will minimize the noise/traffic nuisance of construction on site and also reduce the duration of its realization. Given the rationality of the footprint of the two buildings, the construction will be easily managed.