Liget Budapest Project – International architectural design competition for five new museum buildings

3 March 2014.

In cooperation with City Park Property Development Zrt., the Museum of Fine Arts has launched a complex, open, international design competition for the museum buildings to be constructed in Budapest’s Városliget (City Park). The two partners are promoting four separate competitions in the framework of the Liget Budapest International Design Competition to construct the five new buildings, which will house six institutions. There is a competition for the common building of the New National Gallery and the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, the building of the Museum of Ethnography and the Hungarian House of Music, while a joint call was put in for the FotoMuzeum Budapest and the Hungarian Museum of Architecture. The international design competition forms a part of the Liget Budapest Project aimed at the complex development and renewal of Városliget. 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. The text of the call can be accessed at

The entries submitted to the 870,000-euro international, two-round open competition will be evaluated by an 11-member international jury. The first stage will close in August and the final results will be announced in December.

Members of the jury:
Chairman: László Baán – governmental commissioner, Director-general of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Co-chairman: Wim Pijbes – architect, Director 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 Sáros – architect, President of the Association of Hungarian Architects; and Martha Thorne architect, Managing Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Alternative 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 a member and an alternate member to the jury.

Within the framework of the Liget Budapest Project, the five new buildings will be built on the fringes of the park, in the Liget, but on the site of the buildings that have been earmarked for demolition, protecting the green area of the park, the reconstruction and growth of which is one of fundamental elements of the Liget Budapest Project. The Museum of Ethnography, the Hungarian Museum of Architecture, as well as the FotoMuzeum Budapest (currently the Hungarian Museum of Photography) will be built on Ötvenhatosok Square, while the Hungarian House of Music will be located on the site of the Hungexpo-offices, which are to be pulled down, and the New National Gallery will be constructed behind Petőfi Csarnok, which is also slated for demolition.

For more than a hundred years the Városliget or City Park has been the place in Budapest where visitors can enjoy a number of cultural, educational and entertainment features set in a relaxing green environment. For instance the Zoo opened here in 1866, the skating rink in 1870, and in 1885 the former Kunsthalle (today Olof Palme House) and the big Industrial Hall (on the site of the Petőfi Hall now stands). In fact in 1896 more than 200 buildings were erected here for the Millennium Exhibition of world-wide interest. After that came the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) in 1906, and in 1913 the wonderful Széchenyi Baths.

Preserving, and at the same time continuing the very special complexity and traditions of the City Park – the state of which has gradually deteriorated over the past years – the Liget Project Budapest will complement with new buildings of the highest rank the existing museum quarter, begun here more than a hundred years ago (Museum of Fine Arts, Kunsthalle, Museum of Agriculture, Transport Museum). In other words a many-sided museum quarter of the type already existing in numerous cultural cities in the world will be created here in Budapest.

To ensure the new buildings will be worthy of the existing ones, on February 27 2014, after three years of preparation, a completely open international architectural design competition was put out to tender – something that hasn’t happened for more than a hundred years, when Budapest was in its prime at the turn of the twentieth century.

The objective of the design competition is for museums to be constructed in the Városliget that will be iconic for Budapest and Hungary through a 21st-century approach and by housing collections and receiving visitors at a global standard. It is important that the planned buildings provide flexible spaces for the decades to come for the institutions that are to move into them, and the right environment for visitor-friendly operations. It is of primary importance that the new museums provide a lasting aesthetic experience at the highest standards of contemporary architecture for visitors and contribute to Budapest’s built-up 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 entries submitted to the four design competitions will be judged based on the same system of regulations, by the same jury and an identical system of evaluation. The winners announced after the second stage will be expected to work together, as well as with other Hungarian architects and experts, and to cooperate both in the preparation for the landscape architectural reconstruction of Városliget and in the preparation for the common energy concept of the planned building complex.

The first round of the competition was announced on February 27 2014, and the deadline for the submission of competitive projects is May 27 2014. The anticipated start of the second stage will be August 2014, and according to plans the jury will announce the final result in December 2014.

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

The objective of the Liget Budapest Project is to achieve a comprehensive renewal of Városliget, an outstandingly important part of this being the construction of the new museum buildings. The preparation of the project’s other elements – including the complete renewal and at the same time extension of the green area of the park, the expansion of the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, the relocation of the Municipal Circus, the partial reconstruction and expansion of the Transport Museum and the establishment of a Children and Youth Knowledge and Events Centre – will take place in parallel with the implementation of the new museum buildings, while partial renewal of the park will begin in spring this year.


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