Liget Budapest Project – Close to Five Hundred Projects Submitted to the Architectural Design Competition

4 June 2014.

Some five hundred projects were submitted from all corners of the world to the open international architectural design competition call for the museum buildings to be built in Budapest’s Városliget (City Park). After three years of preparatory work, Városliget Property Development Zrt. announced a call for designs at the end of February this year in conjunction with the Museum of Fine Arts for the buildings of the New National Gallery – Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Ethnography, the House of Hungarian MusicFotoMuzeum Budapest and the Hungarian Museum of Architecture.  The number of submitted projects is outstanding, the huge interest taken in the international competition having been indicated by the thousands of visitors from more than 140 countries to the competition’s website (www.ligetbudapest.org) in the past three months.

The projects submitted to the two-round open international competition announced in late February will be evaluated by an 11-member international jury. The first round will be closed in August, and the final result will be made public in December.

The last open international design competition before this one was announced in Hungary more than 100 years go, at the millennial heyday of Budapest.

The five new buildings to be built within the framework of the Liget Budapest Project will be constructed on the fringes of Városliget, and on the site of buildings and built-up areas already in the park that are earmarked for demolition, thus protecting the green areas of the park, whose reconstruction and enlargement is one of the fundamental elements of the Liget Budapest Project. The Museum of Ethnography, the Hungarian Museum of Architecture and FotoMuzeum Budapest (now the Hungarian Museum of Photography) will be built on Ötvenhatosok Square, while the House of Hungarian Music and the New National Gallery will stand on the respective locations of the Hungexpo offices and Petőfi Csarnok (Petőfi Events Centre), both slated for demolition.

The submitted designs will be evaluated by Hungarian and foreign museum and architectural professionals. The members of the jury are:

Chairman: László Baán – ministerial commissioner, Director-general of the Museum of Fine Arts, co-chairman: Wim Pijbes – architect, Director-general of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Members: Paula Cadima – architect, university lecturer (AA London School of Architecture); György Fekete – interior architect, President of the Hungarian Academy of Art; Sándor Finta – Chief-architect of Budapest; Edwin Heathcote – architect, architectural critic for the Financial Times; Henri Loyrette – state councillor, former director of the Musée du Louvre; Ervin Nagy – national chief architect; László György Sáros – architect, President of the Association of Hungarian Architects; and Martha Thorne – architect, Managing Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Substitute members: Imre Bálint – President of the Budapest Chamber of Architects; Zoltán Cselovszki – architect, President of the Forster Gyula National Centre for Cultural Heritage Management; György Fazakas – architect; and Tamás Perényi – architect, associate professor and head of the Faculty of Architecture at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. The UIA (International Union of Architects) delegates members and substitute members to the jury.

An important consideration in the evaluation of the submitted projects is for the designed buildings to provide flexible spaces for the institutions they will house, as well as the necessary environment for their visitor-friendly operations in the decades to come.  It is of primary importance that the new museums create a lasting aesthetic experience for visitors at the highest standards of contemporary architecture and contribute to enriching Budapest’s built heritage, while treating the historical legacy of Városliget with respect. The aim is to create an individual, clearly recognisable and identifiable complex consisting of buildings expressing distinct, vigorous architectural ideas, with the potential to foster increasing international awareness of Budapest and Hungary’s culture, providing open, transparent and inviting communal spaces for the residents of Budapest as well as for domestic and foreign visitors, while being in line with the expectations of sustainable architecture.

The projects submitted to the four design competitions will be judged based on a unified system of regulations, by the same jury and an identical evaluation system. The winners announced after the second round will be expected to work together as well as with other Hungarian architects and experts, and to cooperate in the preparation for both the landscape architectural reconstruction of Városliget and the common energetics system for the planned building complex.

Following the announcement of the final result, the detailed planning process, the procuring of the necessary permits and the public procurement procedures will begin in 2015, while construction may commence in 2016 and the buildings will be ready for their inauguration by 15 March 2018. The total costs planned for the implementation of the five new museum buildings is 75 billion HUF.

Preserving and further developing the uniquely complex range of institutions in Városliget, the Liget Budapest Project will add new buildings of a European standard to the museums that were established here more than a hundred years ago (Museum of Fine Arts, Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, Transport Museum) to create a diverse museum quarter of the type already existing in many cultural metropolises of the world, while also significantly increasing the green area of Városliget.

The almost 150-year tradition of Városliget is to equally provide the opportunity for culture, entertainment and green recreation both for local residents and visitors. Through the construction of the new museum buildings, the complete renewal and expansion of the park’s green area, as well as the reconstruction and development of the institutions already operating there, Városliget will be transformed into one of Budapest’s key tourist and cultural destinations and family event parks, making it known all over Europe.