Budapest South Gate
ZOA unveils Snøhetta’s masterplan for a new waterfront district in Budapest
Beyond thrilled and honored
Even despite our personal attachment to the city—since we are a local studio—we can declare that Budapest is one of the world’s most astonishing and beautiful places.
For this reason, when we made an offer for creating visualizations for the project—virtual high-five to our friends at Sporaarchitects for introducing us to Snøhetta’s Innsbruck Office and for being the Hungarian partner of them—back in 2019, we were super excited. From the very first moment, we knew that something extraordinary was about to happen.
It is no exaggeration to say that our whole office was beyond thrilled and honored when we partnered up with Snøhetta. Regarding the working hours, this has been our biggest project so far, with appr. 20 images and a 2 minute-long animation in Hungarian and English, created between March and July, 2020.
Two cities in one
Someone living outside the city might not be aware of the fact that the two sides of Budapest often can be considered as two different quarters. From the beginning of time, the argument about which part is worthier living at has been a banter between ‘budai’ (traditionally the wealthier class) and ‘pesti’ (that is, where the magic happens) people, but one thing we share in common: we all know what it means and feels like to be ‘budapesti’ and we all want to be able to make the best out of our city.
Moreover, we all have a personal relationship with the Danube. In general, rivers have a symbolic meaning—they are the representation of constantly changing life, and to a further extent, along with bridges, they hold the power of dividing and connecting things at the same time.
To be honest, in the past few decades, Budapest has not completely used one of its biggest trumps — the river itself, especially not in the Southern area. Apart from some individually established urban hip spaces, this very part of the city has been unjustly neglected. And now, as we take a look at the South Gate plans, this is about to change, as Budapest’s new and exciting possible future is taking shape, with a lively waterfront for the capital.
Key elements of the masterplan
According to Patrick Lüth, Managing Director of Snøhetta’s Innsbruck Office, the winning element of their design was highlighting the former market hall by creating run-off channels that go beyond the building and by that, connect the spacious public plaza to the river.
It seems that the jury has seen much more potential in the plans, because as they stated ‘It boldly accepts the challenge of developing a new neighborhood in Budapest that does not yet exist. It captures the opportunities of the area—offered by water, green belts and the characteristics of an island’, and we couldn’t agree more.
Besides the inevitable advantages of creating educational (it would be a home for 12,000 students), recreational (extensive park landscapes) and sport facilities (an athletic arena with 15,000 seats would also be built in the neighborhood), the gigantic investment’s—supported by the Hungarian government, worth over 3.39 billion EUR—most appealing factor is the emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency.
Green roofs, plant-based purification systems and rain-gardens that help prevent the formation of heat islands and increase the biodiversity in the city are the basis of the masterplan.
Pushing the limits
As mentioned, working on this project that is this close to our hearts with Snøhetta was truly a blast for our visualization company. Being personally involved as local citizens, the weight on our shoulders was even bigger than usual, since we wanted to achieve 100%. In order to challenge ourselves even more, for the first time ever, we used railclone for modeling 100+ buildings (hint for the non-professional readers: with this parametric modeling tool, based on some regularities and façade-types, buildings can be generated), even though in the future, there possibly will be separate tenders for each plot.
BFK Budapest Development Centre