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  • A Reflection of Identity

    CEU Building Extension, Budapest

    Architects: Sheila O’Donnell, John Tuomey
    Text: Krisztián Dudics
    Photos: Tamás Bujnovszky

    The Central European University has been present in the historic downtown district of Pest for 25 years now. First it moved in one building, then into several ones joining each other. The decision made about a couple of years ago to extend the institute which offers post-graduate training in English involved the integration of two more neighbouring lots and houses on them in order to develop the site into a homogenous genuously modern contemporary campus. An international tender of architecture was published in 2011–12 to work out the scheme meant to develop the downtown block by integrating the two neighbouring sites as well. Designs submitted by Dublin-based O’Donnell + Tuomey architects’ office and M-Teampannon team won the contest. To integrate the complex into the existing fabric of the city required an architectural approach based on a complex, sensible and thorough intellectual process, which we find fully justified after viewing the finished product. The sheer quantity and well-conceivedness of details is simply amazing: the way how the integral architectural attitude and view evolves from the principles of spatial organisation and structural configuration and how it is reflected through the materials selected and even in the tiniest details all come to prove that great and systematic intellectual work as well as professional commitment has been invested in the project. This stage of development concerned two lots, an existing and a vacant one on which a new block had already been built: according to plans, these two are going to be connected by a system of communication organized around the inner yard covered with a new glass roof. Open to all visitors, this reception area is marked with an oval transparent concrete stair-sculpture and is actually one of the centres of the whole extension project. Its counterpart is the corresponding inner yard of the other existing and converted building with a communication stairway bridging over space at a certain height: it is covered with glazed roofing which cuts it at a steep slanting plane. In the interior the railings of the stairs as well as the structures of the bridge-like or consoled components feature characteristic rusty red steel which unifies the communal interiors used by everyone typically when moving around where the raw concrete and recycled brick surfaces of the individual building structures delicately show their distinction via the building materials used.

    Project architects: Mark Grehan, Ciara Reddy – O’Donnell + Tuomey Ltd.
    Local architects: Máté Hidasnémeti, Bence Varga – Teampannon Kft.
    Fellow architects: Brian Barber, Anne Louise Duignan, Jitka Leonard, Geoff Brouder, Henrik Wolterstorff – O’Donnell + Tuomey Ltd.
    Ádám Kern, Andrea Szabó, Eszter Bagdy, Szabolcs Kriston, Gábor Palotás – Teampannon Kft.

    Structure: István Kenese, Tibor Csáki – Kenese Kft., István Kovács, Nándor Kelényi – Kovács és Kovács Kft., Csaba Petik – Petik és Társai Kft.
    HVAC: Krisztián Szlovák – Temesvári Tervező Kft.
    Electrical engineering: Ferenc Kelemen – Kelevill FZ Kft.
    Fire protection: Lajos Takács – Takács-Tetra Kft.
    Kitchen technology: Piroska Kaszab – Kende Gastro Zrt.
    Acoustics: Andor Tamás Fürjes – aQrate akusztikai mérnök iroda Kft.
    Garden design: András Kuhn, Eszter Varga – Gardenworks Kft.
    Main contractor: Market – Stabag konzorcium
    Client: CEU-CREO Office