Original architect: József Schall (1942) Architect in charge: Levente Szabó DLA, Zsolt Gyüre Co-architects: Orsolya Simon, Dávid Kohout, Balázs Biri Landscape design: Csenge Csontos, Borbála Gyüre (Geum Műterem Ltd.) Photos: Tamás Szentirmai, Balázs Biri
The construction of this transportation building on Móricz Zsigmond Circus, Budapest, was completed in 1943 according to the design of József Schall. Due to its shape it was later informally nicknamed the “Mushroom.” Originally a departure building, a waiting room and a café were placed in three building sectors under the roof with a ring-shaped layout. A fountain stood in the middle of the ring (stone relief by László Szomor). Shortly after its completion the building was roughly converted, and transformers were placed into one of its circle sectors. Because of its particular spatial composition and extremely slim reinforced concrete details, it has been a listed building under monumental protection since 1997.
The circular layout of the building was initially determined by the spatial arrangement of the trams’ looping tracks intertwining with the building itself. In the early 2000s, the use of the tracks was no longer pertinent; and since their dismantling, the circle shaped building was left awaiting its renewal. Recently, the function has been changed to a public space pavilion, and for the completion of this role the district council announced a design competition in 2009. Based on the design awarded first prize, the plans were finished in 2012 and the building in 2014. The main design concept was to achieve perfect circular symmetry, and to this end the architects undertook the reinterpretation of the classical conservation considerations. The original building contours were reconstructed, then frameless curved thermal glass, curved fine concrete panels and contemporary details were added to the building. The pillars, beams and cantilevered roof slabs were repaired and reinforced during a complete structural renovation.
The design and the proportion of wall and glass structures were also reformulated. Unified parapet walls were built along the outer arc, while glass structures starting from the floor level were installed along the inner arc. The back cross wall of each circle sectors and the only inter-column section from the courtyard were designed with solid wall structure. This design largely restored the original wall-opening ratio, but also eliminated the former building-constraints, such as steps, varying floor levels and parapets. A further advantage of this design was a kind of asymmetry between the interior and the exterior, which was fully justified by the changed spatial situation—noisy and busy circus and quiet, calm courtyard. Some solutions could be used that were not possible or only possible to a limited extent in 1942-43. Such solutions include an essentially frameless thermal glazing that was installed with a circular layout, and inserted in the cladding plane of the solid wall sections. Prefabricated curved fine concrete panels were placed in front of the solid wall sections.
Additionally, the front facades of certain building sectors are completely open towards the passageways and semi-open spaces, thus the circular generosity and the relationship between the inner and outer places is further strengthened. The huge sliding glass walls may make the integrated coexistence of the closed and roofed semi-open areas possible.
For the sake of transparent design, the service functions were formed as large-scale functional furniture not contacting the front, on the basis of the “house-in-the-house” concept. Most of the service functions were placed on the partially developed basement level. The architects minimized the size of the furniture-boxes by placing the staircases between the boxes and the façade.
One critic of the building, Csaba Masznyik notes: “The view of the renewed building is considered as a resounding success both by the architects and the general public, but not by art historians dealing with listed monuments (at least by those I know). In my opinion, the renovated Mushroom became a brilliantly beautiful, artistically developed and remarkably sophisticated building, as if it would be located not in Hungary, but somewhere in the West. (…) The approach free from harsh gesture, but focusing consciously on the essence, on the ‘message’ of the building, led to a metamorphosis: the Mushroom turned to be a contemporary building in which the past is present with a great power.” (METSZET 2014/4)