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  • A Hidden Building-Object

    Swimming-Pool and Sports Hall, Budaörs

    Architects: Ferenc Keller, Tamás Fialovszky, Gábor Sajtos
    Text: Miklós Sulyok
    Photos: Tamás Bujnovszky

    A giant building with a vast basic area: it is quite a task to take a tour of it. It has a main emtrance opposite the new elementary school in Hársfa Street where two public buildings come together in a spectacular streetscape.

    I visited the complex and its neighbourhood just a fortnight ago and since then I have been thinking about the possible causes of the weird fact that I simply cannot recall the swimming-pool of Budaörs as a building-object in the way we typically remember individual buildings. I have the impression that a building of such a large mass and dimensions does not show integrity from either elevation. As if it was escaping my memory. It is not the characteristic main elevation that I miss here, and anyway, the integral image of the complex that I treasure in my mind is a result of my inspecting the design submitted for the tender. The peculiar overall form of the building is a result of two large planes of the roof with a small angle of inclination. It does not seem to be tall, as a single-storey structure cannot be tall at all, but it does not appear to be low either, as the end facade shows the genuine height of the commanding complex.
    It is strange enough as otherwise the exterior wooden panelling of the building is relatively homogeneous and integral. The development is organized around a clear horizontal plan: the wings housing the swimming-pool and the sports hall are separated by a wide foyer starting at the entrance. Entering the building here an unambiguous spatial view welcomes us. To the left there is the swimming-pool, whilst to the right there are the grand stands of the sports hall, and opposite the staircase leading to the upper storey. The facade is not emphasized too much, the main entrance is an almost hidden one reinforcing the impression of concealment.
    The interior spatial intelligibility is a result of the fact that the whole complex can be taken in with a glance at first sight. We have an insight into the roofed swimming-pool beyond which we can have a clear view of the open-air swimming-pool and the area of the lido. The pool space is not very high, but has an interior rationally designed without frippery emphasizing the sports functions and without yielding to the disturbing temptation of spectacular baths or fun-fairs. A mosaic facework with a black and grey palette insterspersed with red here and there, glass partitions with black metal trusses, the grey metal lattice suspended ceiling and the turquoise of the pool contribute to the reserved overall impression of the interior composed with fine proportions. On the other side of the entrance corridor, beneath the stands there are the wardrobes of the cloakroom. Visitors can proceed from here taking the stairs to the stands. The spatial formation of the latter is also reserved, even though red plastic seats replaced the wooden benches originally planned for the single-sided grand stand. Upstairs we have a peculiar view of a spacious passage above the ground-floor foyer-corridor, the lathwork enveloping almost the whole exterior surface of the building is continued here. This is where I come to understand the designers’ intention of having a traversable structure here. On the northern corner of the side of the main entrance to the house there is a ramp leading upstairs so that one can go up and cross the sports centre without having to enter the building itself. Arriving at the rear facade we can find a restaurant with a terrace which is also accessible independently of the structure.
    Wooden panelling and exposed concrete are predominant materials of the building. The finish of exposed concrete with tiny circular dents weirdly resemble the concrete surfaces which are the brand of Tadao Ando. Unfortunately it is beyond comparisosn as the standards of Hungarian execution pitifully poor.) However, the overall design of the building reminds us of the compact spatial formation typical of early works by the Japanese master. Anyway, the overall impression evokes the three qualities mentioned in the title: clarity, lightness and simplicity. The sports centre is exactly what it should be: no more or less than an urban institution for recreation next to the motorway, on the margin of a belt of family houses. The green roof included in the original design but finally discarded would have substantially increased the total value of the building making it also a unique one due to its „vanishing” character.

    Architecture: Építész Stúdió Kft.
    Architects: Keller Ferenc, Fialovszky Tamás, Sajtos Gábor
    Structure: Pongor László
    Installation: Oltvai András, Oltvai Tamás
    Electrical engineering: Kovács György, Ivanics Zoltán
    Landscape: Steffler István, Kontra Dániel