Status: Competition (2014)
Scale: 47.935 ㎡ Large
Types: Cultural, Museum
Two realities, two solutions
The current museums require exposition areas with total elimination of natural light and with convertible, exchangeable and flexible spaces. Due to its situation in the city park environment, the Liget Budapest Competition looks for answers about the relation between landscape and construction. People expect that the new National Gallery and Ludwig Museum inserts smoothly into the landscape and gives open, transparent and inviting spaces. This is the great challenge of the competition: the best project has to struggle between these two realities, enclosed spaces for exhibitions and open areas for many parts of the program. Each one of them has to find its own expression.
Public areas into a garden
This will be the great experience for visitors. In a good day, people will be able to cross different courtyards without any visual interruption. People will enjoy being part of the natural environment at the same time they listen to class, ask for any information, buy a book, take a break or have a meal. Because these programs are more flexible about natural light and space organisation and because we have avoided the basements, the shape of the footprint will be able to dodge easily the trunks and the roots of the trees, keeping the maximum of them. We have introduced in these areas the Hospitality, the Museum learning, the Ludwig Museum’s offices and the three Event halls of both institutions. Reinterpreting the brief, the GAIA of the National Gallery will also be situated in this area. The transparent facades, the visual continuity, the green roofs and the organic limits will provide a natural experience that will engage geometry, naturalism and abstraction.
“Black box” for the collections
Trying to keep the most important trees, we have placed the main construction of the project in the southwest part of the plot. All the exhibitions spaces have been introduced in two big “black boxes”, one for each institution. Made of concrete, the walls will support a prestressed slabs system without any pillar inside. Understanding that a modern museum has to provide flexibility, we have created two “warehouses” of art in a single five storey building. Some double heights will permit bigger sizes and will break the continuity in order to orientate the visitor. Nothing more is needed, nothing more is given. The building will provide the basis for a future development of the contents. The architecture will give enclosed spaces, clear geometry and good utilities without any disturbance.
Wrapping the volume. Facades, offices and communications
We wrap the enclosed box with a second glass façade in order to give isolation to the building. Between both facades is created an intermediate space that contains parts of the program directly connected with the exhibition. This action allows a temperature protection to the collection, which spaces have to have a constant gradient throughout the year. Elevators, escalators, stairs, even some toilets and small storage rooms, will be located in this area. The National Gallery’s offices are placed in the southwest façade, connected with the exhibition and looking at the historic city. Escalators are suspended in the space, enjoying beautiful views of the park and creating light courtyards for the basement. The glass façade will have clear and opaque parts depending on the uses. Outwards people will be able to look at the visitors going up on the escalators, reflecting the open character of the museum.
Two institutions vs an only one construction
A great challenge of the competition is how to place two institutions in a single building, keeping their own activity. Visitors have to understand each museum independents of the other. The point where both institutions meet in the connection between the permanent collections is the focal point, the symbolic bridge of the project. In our project the only one volume is divided in two parts just in this point, creating a big gap. A pedestrian Path will cross the plot under this connection. Visitors will enter into the building from both sides, the northeast from Hermina Street and the southwest from the historical axis of the park, dividing the construction in two parts; two lobbies, two events halls, and so on. We have understood that the two main ideas, the collection box and the garden experience, must be expressed without disturbing the independence of both institutions.
The main volume height is close to 25 metres. In order to give a more remarkable importance and divide the two museums, the project propose a new skyline with two volumes that reach 40 m, the maximum height allowed. From the outside, their facades will become two big signboards where each museum will advertise its own activities. At night these two “towers” will shine above the park. Talking together like two headlights, they will remind citizens that there is a new reference in the city and that culture is the most remarkable human activity. We have taken advantage of these landmarks to make the interiors more functional. The National Gallery’s volume becomes a big skylight that will contain the large-size sculptures space (reinforcing the slab in this area). Reinterpreting the brief, we have understood this point like a great end of the permanent exhibition. The Ludwig Museum’s volume will host the cafeteria. A big window looking at the old city will offer great views of the city.
Keeping trees, but also the scale
The garden area never reaches more than 9.5 m height. Most of the trees will wrap the building, keeping the original landscape’s views. The brief asks to minimize as much as possible the cutting down or replacement of trees for the implementation of the building. It will be a high priority during the planning of the building. We want to pay attention that this criterion must include a sensibility with the scale. It’s not only a physical problem of roots and trunks, but an opportunity to create harmony between the new construction and nature. Building layout in that area looks like a group of leaves where you can understand each space as a unity or as a group. The facades never reach lengths of more than 15 m and the movement of the different alignments allows for fragmentation of the building front in small courtyards. The glass closure will have many openings to extend outdoor activity. If the Ludwig museum’s cafe is on the top of the building looking over the city skyline, the National Gallery’s cafeteria and the brasserie is placed on the ground floor, enjoying direct relation with the park.
Basement: storage, parking and delivery
The project places two basement areas; one under the events rooms of both institutions, and the main one situated under the collections volume. They reduce to a minimum the footprint of keeping the roots, the only way to conserve the current trees. The event’s area basement has its own access from the street to the stage, directly linked with some delivery areas and storage areas where trucks can be parked. This separated area will allow autonomy to manage any event scheduled without disturbing the museum activities. The main basement develops in two storeys; the artifact handling areas, the service storages, the building service rooms and car parking area. Each institution will have its own areas, including the artifact delivery docks. Depending on the arrangement, the management of the building will allow sharing or not several parts of both museums in the future. There is one entry divided between the public car park access, the parking ramp of the building car park and the two delivery docks.
What about sustainability?
The best way to design a great sustainable building starts with the design. No matter how sophisticated the mechanical and electronical items that the building incorporates, everything starts with the concept. We propose green roofs, a triple glass enclosure for the outside and a cerficate wood cladding for the inside in the public areas. The «collections box» will be built mainly with a recycled concrete structure, enclosed and insulated by a second triple glass façade, and covered by a green roof. All the decisions try to find a great balance between the heat transfer coefficient and the quality and comfort of the public and working spaces. Gardens and roofs inside the plot will incorporate a drainage system to recycle the rainwater discharge.
What about the ecology?
Giving solutions to the same requirements, the less you build, the more respectful with the environment the building is. Reducing the typical building only to the collections, the rest is a construction not in a park, it is a place where visitors will experience being directly a part of it. Can a building be more healthy and comfortable than the one where you feel truly between the trees? Is there any more protection of the values of the park? What can’t be better than protecting the values of the park?