The Budapest Student City - South Gate Program is one of the most important and largest scale urban development projects in Hungary in the recent decades. In the derelict and dilapidated neighbourhoods of South-Pest and North-Csepel, less than 5 kilometres from the city centre, a healthy, sustainable and liveable district is to be developed with energy-efficient green buildings functioning as student housing and residential buildings, and also creating jobs and spaces for studying and research.
Design Plan, Snøhetta, 2020
This new part of the city, Budapest’s largest active green area, is about to born, with renewed public transport services and new public investments in a more than 130-hectare unbroken development area, the like of which would be hard to find in any other European metropolis. The development will immediately result in outstanding value: renewal of the suburban railway lines, the construction of the Student City, the new Ferencváros Recreational Park, the Csepel Public Park and a new bridge across the River Danube. It will revitalise this desolate area that has been so sadly neglected for decades. Pedestrian and cyclist traffic will come to the fore, the heart of the district will be a car-free zone and at the same time, suburban railway lines will be developed and moved under ground and the extension of tram lines will begin. Due to the South Gate Development Program the citizens of Budapest can finally directly access the Ráckevei (Soroksári) Danube Branch waterfront, allowing an experience of the Danube without any restrictions.
Visualisation, Snøhetta, 2020
An international design competition was launched in 2018 as the first step of the South Gate program, where the Applicants were expected to assess the opportunities of the development in the area. The first prize was won by the Innsbruck office of the Oslo-based design firm SNØHETTA – which, among others, designed the Central Library of Calgary, the Norwegian National Opera and the Cultural Centre of the Swedish university city of Umea - in cooperation with the Austrian transport design firm Besch und Partner. According to the competition evaluation, the winning project meets the expectation that the currently neglected and therefore barely visited Danube waterfront and large open areas of South Pest and North Csepel, are integrated with Budapest's dynamically developing urban life. Based on SNØHETTA's master plan, the new parks, public spaces and sports facilities will serve the citizens of Budapest with sport, recreational and family programs on an outstanding level.
The mix of architectural and landscape quality is one of the strengths of the South Gate project: this will be one of the few places in the city where there is a direct interaction between the city and the water. Besides the renewal of the Danube waterfront, new water surfaces are also created. A unique landscape architectural element, an urban peninsula, is created with the artificial canal built around the Student City. Thanks to the built and close-to-nature waterfronts, the heat island effect of the city will be reduced, and the new water surfaces will also play a prominent role in rainwater treatment. This blue and green infrastructure creates a healthy, liveable living and working environment and thanks to the special ecosystem, a new kind of connection with water can develop, making the neighbourhood more resistant to the effects of climate change and, at the same time, more liveable.
Visualisation, Snøhetta, 2020
The Budapest Development Agency – which manages the South Gate program - announces an open international architectural design competition entitled “Budapest Student City – Big Market Hall and its Surroundings”. The objectives of the competition include the preparation of plans for the renovation of the heritage protected Big Market Hall and the development of its immediate environment according to its new functions, as well as the design of the first student housing of the Budapest Student City and its integration into the envisaged new university district.
The heritage protected building complex of the Big Market Hall, located in the centre of the area, consists of a hall building of nearly 10,000 square meters and an office building with a total area of roughly 6,000 square meters. The buildings stand next to the main public square that connects them with the Danube waterfront. The Budapest Development Agency expects applications for the open, international design competition, which integrate the planned new functions of the building complex with its immediate surroundings and the future university district as well. One key aspect is making use of the potentials of the historic - now a rather dilapidated - Big Market Hall building complex, through a modern interpretation of its ethos.
The tasks of the design competition further include the design of the first student housing building and its immediate surroundings, as part of Budapest Student City. Alike to the above, the Budapest Development Agency expects designs that create a high quality natural and built environment, with sustainability in mind. The new building will provide student housing on a total area of approximately 3,000 square meters, and applicants also need to design about 1,000 square feet sports function on the ground floor.
Everyone could have a feeling of ownership of the public spaces in the new Student City; its sustainable solutions will enrich the capital with a durable and valuable new neighbourhood. The positive effects of the implementation of the new neighbourhood will go far beyond the specific area and can serve as an example for other future developments.