House of Hungarian Music Competition

In 2014 the Hungarian government proposed an ambitious urban renewal program in ‘City Park’ (Varosliget) in Budapest. The park – somewhat dilapidated but centred around a historic castle – was to be the site of 5 state musuems dedicated to Hungary’s history in the arts and cultural history. Each of the five museums was opened to international, anonymous competition.

Our proposal for the Hungarian House of Music explored notions of architecture as theatre, and architecture as stage itself; we proposed a simple envelope defined by three stacked volumes that could open up its ground floor interface with the park on 3 of 4 facades, to promote the capacity for music festivals and events. To move away from the museum as monolith, the ground floor facade along these elevations was designed to be highly-operable, with lift up, tilt up, sliding and folding panels that would allow the cafe, lobby and principal auditorium become rooms as extension of the park.

The necessarily insular functions of the brief – offices, climate controlled exhibition spaces and archiving rooms were vertically stacked in the central tower, connecting these spaces to the parkland through elevated vistas of the trees and of the park’s historic castle. Each faced was considered as a screen, or a like a stage-scene in a Proscenium arch theatre; a series of layers who’s operation changed with the daily operation of the museum to create a rhythm and representation of the building’s daily rituals.

Our proposal was not judged, but was disqualified on arrival due to incorrect identification of the posted package. Complex postage requirements relating to the anonymity of competitions – involving one envelope inside another, addressed to one location that would then be opened before being forwarded to the second location – that were changed multiple times during the competition and our incorrect interpretation of these instructions led to our proposal being considered ineligible.

Several months later, the government declared the results of several of the competitions – particularly for the central pieces of the museum precinct, the contemporary art museum – to be unsatisfactory and commissioned a who’s-who of international architects to compete for the 40,000m2 complex, questioning the validity of open-competitions in an increasingly globalized world of competitive architecture.