Museum of Ethnography Budapest

Designers: Vesztergom Ádám, Nagy-Miticzk Szabolcs, Bánáti Béla, Hartvig Lajos

Team: Bánsági Dávid, Fekete Csilla, Farkas Anett (Arch-Studio Kft.) Farkas Mária, Kása Viktória, Horváth Benedek, Sárkány Bence, Soós Krisztina (Tér Alkotó Kft.), Éles Péter, Ferencz Tamás, Szécsi Ákos, Székely Ágnes (Bánáti + Hartvig Építész Iroda Kft.)
Museum technology: Véner Ágnes
Garden and landscape designer: Győre Viola, Szabó Gábor (Tér-Team Kft.)
Art consultant: Városi Gábor, Lelkes László
Static: Szántó László

Location: Budapest Városliget

Status: international competition

Cultural sustainability
Regardless of the exhibited content, a museum will develop a complex relationship
with various segments of culture. In the history of architecture, particularly in the
modern period, museum buildings have been significantly overrepresented in
comparison with other types of buildings. This does not happen by accident; building
museums is an important aspect of public life. More often than not, their building is
carried out in the focus of public attention, surrounded by wide-ranging public
debate. In most cases, their design is preceded by an extensive design competition,
which results in communicative and progressive buildings of high quality. A building
whose purpose is to preserve historical assets must take into consideration and
adapt its own message to the cultural information conveyed by the objects to be
exhibited and the urban context.

Communication gateway
In response to the axis of Városligeti fasor and in order to free the way to the
extension of the axis, the building is shaped as an arched gate orientated roughly
symmetrically to the axis of the avenue. The design of the building is both practical
and symbolic. It guides the flow of traffic into City Park, its other museums and the
Vajdahunyad Castle and serves as a point of reference to City Park traffic and as the
point of departure and destination for walks in the Park. A perpendicular axis, also
relevant in terms of urban architecture, runs parallel with Dózsa György út and the
building, providing a pedestrian link to Heroes’ Square and the prospective City Park
Theatre on the other side.
Rather than blocking it, the building should facilitate and generate spatial
connections and the flow of abstract dialogues. Taking into account the location’s
unique character and its special historical and cultural background, the purpose of
the building must not be restricted to providing space for the presentation of folk
art. By reason of the role it occupies in the urban structure, it should also function
as a Gate of Recognition, showing the diversity of paths from museum to park and
from one museum to another. It also plays a role as a Gate of Culture, as the key
element to the collective sustainability of folk art objects originating from different
periods and geographical situations. During its long existence, the City Park has
developed a rich and complex emotional and cultural relationship with residents. The
building’s gate-like design adds another layer to that relationship by reinforcing the
axis of the Városligeti fasor and the role it plays in urban architecture and through a
powerful reflection of today’s urban design trends. The axis of Városligeti fasor
represents a new structure in the texture of the City Park, whereas the layout of the
new museums in line with the design principles developed at the Millennium will
result in a combination of old and new design ideas.

A place for dialogue
The museum as a function will in itself generate several layers of multifarious
dialogue, a character the proposed location is perfectly capable of providing. The
dialogues created have a structural and conceptual nature at the same time. In
terms of urban structure, the dialogue between the built environment of the
Városligeti fasor and the City Park’s organic texture and the dialogue between the
geometrical confines and large open space facing them are equally relevant.
Similarly, the rich 19th and 20th-century history of the City Park inspires a
significant and metaphorically interpretable conceptual dialogue with its present.
There is a similar dialectic between the cultural character of Budapest and the
character of the Museum of Ethnography, one that is removed from international and
urban aspects. While these dialogues involve contradictions, resolving such
contradictions by providing the right answers offers an excellent ground for
geometrical and conceptual discourse. Beckoning from a transitional zone, the
building communicates with all parties without an intention to identify with any of
them, its mission being to create a series of fascinating dialogues.

Parametric structures
Rules of the cultural evolution of a city are hard to define. The museum is a
reflective function expressing the response of a specific period, at a specific moment
of that evolution, using the communication potentials available. In addition to
architecture, it is achieved through the cultural implications and the densely woven
system of relations of the exhibited material. The parametric geometrical systems
applied for the design of the external shell of the building employ constraints,
assignments and restrictions to create sophisticated textures that, while being similar
to cultural systems, are reduced to exact mathematical structures. It is a selfbuilding
geometry: every change to a parameter or a rule will trigger an appropriate
modification in the shapes created. It is suitable to create patterns without two
identical components, whose dimensions and locations are yet determined with
mathematical precision.
The proposed museum gives an innovative and expressive answer to the questions
raised, in an emphatically present-day context. Arched, doubly-bent surfaces create
the transition between the geometry and architecture of built environment and the
organic shapes and patterns of the Park.

Graphic symbols
The most ancient ambition of humans is to define and locate him/herself in time and space. Two
intersecting straight lines are one of the oldest painted gestures in human history. Man divides up space
with two axes and he regards the point of intersection as his position in the world. He perceives time by
the course of the Sun. It is no coincidence that two basic elemnents of visual arts are the coordinate system
(namely the cross) and the circle, that stands for the Sun, the Globe where we live, and the endless
universe at the same time.
These two symbols appear in a great deal of art motifs of the world. The cross and circle combination, the
ancient Sun symbol sign-archetype is appropriate to express the special function of the building in a spiritual
and intellectual way.
The perforation of the outer skin of the building inspires the graphic logic of the series of sun symbols in the
The system of the graphics is flexible enough to depict more comlex forms such as organic creatures or
human figures,
that can play a role in the elaboration of a unified and optically coherent wayfinding and information system
of the building.”