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Bölcs Vár wins architecture award

Design team sought to preserve history while also adding contemporary elements.

The grand prize at the competition organized by the Municipality of Budapest and the Budapest Chamber of Architects went to the renovated building of the old Buda City Hall, the Bölcs Vár (“Wise Castle”). The Budapest Architecture Award was presented at the ceremony of the FUGA Budapest Architectural Center. 

Work being considered had to be within the administrative district of Budapest and had to be designed to enhance the architectural image/appearance, utilization and surroundings of the capital city or a particular district. The declared mission of the Budapest Architectural Excellence Award is to recognize buildings that promote the development of architectural and environmental cultures, renew them and preserve traditional values.

Other entries included the market of Újpest, the MOME campus development, the joint office building of Magyar Telekom and T-Systems Hungary and the reconstruction of the Láng Cultural Center.

Plans for reconstruction of the Bölcs Vár were prepared in 2015 by chief designer Levente Szabó and his team, general contractor Seventh Studio Ltd. The renovation is Baroque with some medieval/Renaissance elements; the team was tasked with preserving these old styles while also bringing the structure up to date for today’s needs. Amidst the older periods represented in the building’s design, new contemporary additions were made – non-obtrusive but clearly showing new areas of intervention. All added tech was made imperceptible, a challenge in such an old house; the clever, clean work of interior designers greatly aided in concealing technical elements throughout. 

The team emphasized that they wanted to preserve and respect the architectural history of the building while also reinterpreting the built materials, “to systematize the imprints of different ages so that they continue to appear as a single whole and not as a random quote.”

There were originally 11 entries chosen by a professional jury. These were viewed and tested, and the top eight were then selected, from which Bölcs Vár received the grand prize.

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