At the end of December the winning designs were presented for the controversial “Liget Budapest” project to build a museum quarter in City Park. The jury of 11 selected three plans from Japan, France and Hungary.
The tender for the huge HUF 150 billion project was announced in February 2014. The jury was led by government commissioner László Baán (director of the Museum of Fine Arts), Wim Pijbes (director of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam) and Martha Thorne (manager of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture). Hungarian and international experts on the jury included Sándor Finta (Head Architect of Budapest), György Fekete (president of the Hungarian Academy of Arts), Edwin Heathcote (architecture critic of the Financial Times) and Juhani Katainen from the Union Internationale des Architectes.
A total 470 applications were handed in by the end of May, of which 17 reached the final round and were presented to the jury anonymously. This was to ensure that neither the national origin nor the professional reputation of the architectural teams influenced the decision and only the actual plans were evaluated. Thus it was that in December one design from Hungary, one from Japan and one from France were chosen.
The jury was supported by 36 further experts and the selection followed five main aspects: besides the professional quality the plans were evaluated according to their technical and functional properties (solutions concerning the expected experience of the visitors and the technology of the museum), their sustainability (energy efficiency, ecology), their “harmony with the environment” (how they fit in the urban profile and within the City Park, the accessibility of the building) and their construction cost. One prominent characteristic considered was that the planned buildings should fit as much into the green surface of the park as possible.
“Thanks to the conditions of the tender there will be such museums within the City Park in the future which are in harmony with the park and represent a special architectural value for Budapest and Hungary, while possessing all the functional solutions of the 21st century in global quality,” Baán emphasised when he announced the winners. Thanks to the project such a public art institute network would be created that would not only raise the international awareness of Budapest and the Hungarian culture, but also offer an open and exciting public space for domestic and international visitors.
The twin buildings of the Budapest Photo Museum (below) and Museum of Hungarian Architecture planned on 56-osok tér will be carried out according to the plan of Középülettervező Zrt. The two cube-shaped buildings are not to be too large, so as to allow the rehabilitation of the square, which is currently used for parking, into a green surface.
Valasz.hu has pointed out their similarity to the Leopold Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (mumok) both in Vienna, and the Museum of Hungarian Architecture will look similar to the Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin. The Folklore Museum will be planned by the French Vallet de Martinis DIID (page 27), who worked on the Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki. The reserved, rather cool design is the largest in terms of surface among the three announced winners and tries to connect the city with the park.
The House of Hungarian Music will be the only building inside the park, built according to the plans of the Sou Fujimoto Architect Agency from Japan (page 27). The futuristic design, which is partly situated underground, is attempting to merge in with the park by achieving an effect as if the trees around the roof are “embracing” the building, according to valasz.hu.
There was one fly in the ointment during the tender: none of the 80 suggestions handed in for the joint buildings of the New National Gallery and the Ludwig Museum, which will be built on the site of the Petőfi hall, to be demolished, proved convincing enough for the jury. Therefore a new tender will be announced, closing in April.
Construction of the five museums is scheduled to begin in 2016 and be finished by March 2018. The project will increase the ratio of green surface in the City Park from the current 60% to 65%. The estimated total cost of the new buildings is around HUF 75 billion. According to Liget Budapest the last international tender of this size was announced more than 100 years ago, in the golden years of Hungary.
The 17 submissions of the final round are being exhibited in the Design Terminal, District V