Museum of Ethnography
AREA 248,000 sf
STATUS Proposed - 12th Placement out of 356 entries (LIGET BUDAPEST Competition)
DESIGN TEAM Danny Forster, Lauren Chapman, Seth Looper, Sean Lee, Jong Han, Laya Pattana, Kyungjin Jun, Alex Lee, Martin Solarte
STRUCTURAL & MEP ARUP
Museum of Ethnography
Situated as it is on the corner of City Park, the museum could easily act as a barrier, forcing pedestrians to walk a long way around or give up on the park altogether. Our goal is to do the opposite: to make the MoE as inviting as a wide-open gate. To that end, we separated the project into three distinct elements—Exhibition Wing to the east, a Conference Center to the west, and an Amenity Space at grade whose roof functions as a public plaza—with interwoven walkways that link all three volumes into one coherent complex.
The MoE will be functionally folded into the park, with seamless movement from city street to playground. Even for those who never
choose to enter its galleries, the MoE will act as a familiar, well-loved object for the people of Budapest—not unlike one of the everyday
objects that it contains.
The tripartite massing strategy (Exhibition Wing, Conference Center, Amenity Space) not only allows for more fluid pedestrian movement
between the city and the park, it also prevents the almost 25,000 square-meter institution from overwhelming the intimate scale of the objects contained within.
The Exhibition Wing is located on the curved corner at the intersection of Dózsa György út and Ajtösi Dúrer sor: a Great Hall flanked by two galleries. The Great Hall is the central hub, the space that a museumgoer returns to as he exits one gallery and enters another. It’s the heart of the building, which lets in daylight while also (through operable louvers in the skylight) pulling air up and through the building.
Since it also acts as a wind cowl and a solar chimney, the large, airy atrium will be not just the project’s most impressive interior space, but also its highly performative environmental core.
The Great Hall also houses the most distinct element of our design: the Cabinet of Curiosities. This climate-controlled visual storage
tower connects the workshops and loading zone located below grade with the elevated galleries above. Through the Cabinet, the MoE
will reveal the inner workings of the collection. Visitors will be able to peer at the artifacts in a more natural state--before (or after)
they are curated in an exhibition; they will even be able to watch the artifacts being transported via a clear-glass cantilevered elevator. From outside the museum, the Cabinet of Curiosities will be visible as it extends up beyond the street-side façade, both a symbol of cultural inquiry and an object of curiosity itself.
The second element of the MoE, the Conference Center to the west, is a 4-story building that engages its context on all sides. A stadium-seating lecture hall opens directly onto the City Park pedestrian promenade; its stage can become a two-sided stage for outdoor events. To the south, the event space has a large opening that allows events to spill out onto the civic plaza, making the area at the entrance of the museum into a space for the public to congregate.
The third element, the Amenity Space, will also extend into the park, inviting the parent strolling by with his child as well as the museum-goer seeking a moment off her feet.
Altogether, the MoE, disaggregated into a constellation of interwoven buildings, will be an open invitation to enter the park or the galleries—or both—and will feel comfortably akin in scale to the adjoining existing residential structures.
As for the MoE’s architectural expression, we wish neither to recreate the stone details and texture of the famed Hauszmann building that currently houses the collection nor to default to the abstract formalistic approach that dominates contemporary museum design. Our stone-paneled façade, with its undulating thickness and form, nods to the tectonics of the beaux art tradition on which much of Hungary was built, while still creating a contemporary object that reflects Budapest’s arrival on the 21st-century cultural stage.
The north and south edges of the MoE site connect to two diametrically opposed conditions: the park and the city. The western edge of the site connects directly with the major pedestrian promenade that aligns with Hero’s Square. Our design seeks to engage all three of these sites—the edge of the park, the corner of the city, the pedestrian thoroughfare—while simultaneously creating a new amenity for the park.
The park side of the museum will feature broad expanses of crisp reflective glass curtain wall that will mirror the lush vegetation of
City Park; the Amenity Space will also open onto the park to invite use by passersby. Park-goers will be drawn up the sloped surfaces
that continue from the base of the park all the way up to the roof level; they will gather on the enlarged stairs that function as a meeting
place and a conceptual “bleacher” that overlook the sports fields located in the park just west of the museum.
The urban side of the project respects the heights, textures, and materiality of the local architectural fabric along Dózsa György út and
Ajtösi Dúrer sor. We’ve also taken the liberty of reorganizing the traffic and pedestrian patterns of the intersection to create a safer way
to cross the main roads. In addition, we have extended a green median along the curved corner of the museum, which emphasizes the
entrance and creates an extended public plaza.
The building acts as a natural extension of the pedestrian promenade, ramping that surface up and atop the project’s podium to create
an elevated “civic plaza.” The plaza connects the pedestrian to the museum and conference center, as well as the park side of the
museum and beyond.
Furthermore, we incorporated the City Park pedestrian promenade directly into our elevated ramp system, which climbs alongside the
building onto a roof garden offering an expansive view of the park.