Ulargui Arquitectos

New National Gallery and Ludwig Museum . Budapest

Ulargui Arquitectos

1. Two realities, two solutions. The current museums require exposition areas with total elimination of natural light and with convertible, exchangeable and flexible spaces. Due to its situation in the city park environment, the Liget Budapest Competition looks for answers about the relation between landscape and construction. People expect that the new National Gallery and Ludwig Museum inserts smoothly into the landscape and gives open, transparent and inviting spaces. This is the great challenge of the competition: the best project has to struggle between these two realities, enclosed spaces for exhibitions and open areas for many parts of the program. Each one of them has to find its own expression.

2. Public areas into a garden. This will be the great experience for visitors. In a good day, people will be able to cross different courtyards without any visual interruption. People will enjoy being part of the natural environment at the same time they listen to class, ask for any information, buy a book, take a break or have a meal. Because these programs are more flexible about natural light and space organisation and because we have avoided the basements, the shape of the footprint will be able to dodge easily the trunks and the roots of the trees, keeping the maximum of them. We have introduced in these areas the Hospitality, the Museum learning, the Ludwig Museum's offices and the three Event halls of both institutions. Reinterpreting the brief, the GAIA of the National Gallery will also be situated in this area. The transparent facades, the visual continuity, the green roofs and the organic limits will provide a natural experience that will engage geometry, naturalism and abstraction.
3. “Black box” for the collectionsTrying to keep the most important trees, we have placed the main construction of the project in the southwest part of the plot. All the exhibitions spaces have been introduced in two big “black boxes”, one for each institution. Made of concrete, the walls will support a prestressed slabs system without any pillar inside. Understanding that a modern museum has to provide flexibility, we have created two “warehouses” of art in a single five storey building. Some double heights will permit bigger sizes and will break the continuity in order to orientate the visitor. Nothing more is needed, nothing more is given. The building will provide the basis for a future development of the contents. The architecture will give enclosed spaces, clear geometry and good utilities without any disturbance.
4. Wrapping the volume. Facades, offices and communications. We wrap the enclosed box with a second glass façade in order to give isolation to the building. Between both facades is created an intermediate space that contains parts of the program directly connected with the exhibition. This action allows a temperature protection to the collection, which spaces have to have a constant gradient throughout the year. Elevators, escalators, stairs, even some toilets and small storage rooms, will be located in this area. The National Gallery’s offices are placed in the southwest façade, connected with the exhibition and looking at the historic city. Escalators are suspended in the space, enjoying beautiful views of the park and creating light courtyards for the basement. The glass façade will have clear and opaque parts depending on the uses. Outwards people will be able to look at the visitors going up on the escalators, reflecting the open character of the museum.
5. Two institutions vs an only one construction.A great challenge of the competition is how to place two institutions in a single building, keeping their own activity. Visitors have to understand each museum independents of the other. The point where both institutions meet in the connection between the permanent collections is the focal point, the symbolic bridge of the project. In our project the only one volume is divided in two parts just in this point, creating a big gap. A pedestrian Path will cross the plot under this connection. Visitors will enter into the building from both sides, the northeast from Hermina Street and the southwest from the historical axis of the park, dividing the construction in two parts; two lobbies, two events halls, and so on. We have understood that the two main ideas, the collection box and the garden experience, must be expressed without disturbing the independence of both institutions.
6. Two landmarks.The main volume height is close to 25 metres. In order to give a more remarkable importance and divide the two museums, the project propose a new skyline with two volumes that reach 40 m, the maximum height allowed. From the outside, their facades will become two big signboards where each museum will advertise its own activities. At night these two “towers” will shine above the park. Talking together like two headlights, they will remind citizens that there is a new reference in the city and that culture is the most remarkable human activity. We have taken advantage of these landmarks to make the interiors more functional. The National Gallery’s volume becomes a big skylight that will contain the large-size sculptures space (reinforcing the slab in this area). Reinterpreting the brief, we have understood this point like a great end of the permanent exhibition. The Ludwig Museum’s volume will host the cafeteria. A big window looking at the old city will offer great views of the city.

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