Művészetek Palotája -Palace of Arts, Budapest, Hungary

Zoboki-Demeter and Associates Architects
Date Built
2002 - 2005
Komor Marcell St 1
The spectacular Palace of Arts in Budapest occupies a site beside the Danube and adjacent to the National Theatre.  Like the Sage in Gateshead, in the UK, the Palace of Arts is made up of three elements enclosed within the one outer shell. As the centre's website explains, "The Palace of the Arts is the southern closure of the series of plots along the Pest-side Danube bank between the Petőfi Bridge and the Lágymányosi Bridge. Its main elevation looks onto the central square, instead of the Danube. Our principle for the composition was that the three independent cultural units should not get over or under each other at any place, but their public circulation places should be interconnected. The complex to be constructed on the plot serves a treble cultural function. It harbours the Bartók National Concert Hall, the seat of the National Philharmonic, the Festival Theatre, the dance theatre and the Ludwig Museum of contemporary art."

A large common foyer serves all of the venues and provides areas for the audience to gather, cloakroom and ticket services, hospitality areas and wide stairways and balconies.

The largest of the internal spaces is taken up by the Bartok Bela National Concert Hall which can seat 1607 people and has additional space on the third level for students to stand at a reduced price.  The architects explain that, "An important element of the hall is the movable acoustic canopy system floating above the podium, reaching also over the auditorium, consisting of three elements. The variable acoustics of the hall is also served by the system of the huge reverberant chambers placed along the side walls of the podium and the auditorium, which can modify the volume of the hall and the reverberation time by moving large-sized and heavy doors. The moveable curtains covering the walls of the concert hall are also part of the adjustable acoustic system."  The hall is home to the National Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Festival Theatre is a much more intimate space accommodating an audience of 450.  The architects say that it was designed as, " ... the home of the House of Traditions. This is why the design of the hall was adjusted to the powerful folk music performances. ...  The hall ensures the same multifunctionality as the concert hall – in its own scale. Dance theatre productions, music theatre guest performances, small classical music concerts or chamber operas can be organized here..."

At the Danube end of the building is the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art.  It is home to a collection of 70 pieces of art donated by Peter and Irene Ludwig.  The Ludwig's website says of the museum that it is, " ... the first Hungarian Museum of Contemporary Art with a truly international collection. It permits exciting comparisons to be made between the outstanding objects of American Pop Art and their Hungarian contemporaries of the sixties, on whom they evidently had an extremely stimulating influence."  The Ludwig's impressive collection of art is on display in a number other museums and institutions that bear their name located in Aachen, Bamberg, Basel, Koblenz, Cologne, Oberhausen, Beijing, Saarlouis, St. Petersburg and Vienna.

The architects say of the Ludwig that it is, " ... the most silent part of the block. Arising from the geometry of the plot and the function, it is separated from the other two “collective/performing” functions. The strength of visuality was composed not by turning away from the environment, but by the continuous dialogue between the cityscape and the venue. A recurring element of the walk in the exhibition spaces located in this concise block is the sight of the Danube and the city through the glazed walls of the stairs and the resting areas in the exhibition space.