While best known for its Belle-Époque buildings, Budapest also features other architectural styles that have left their mark on the city above ground and below. The Bauhaus influence of the pre-war era helped shape modern Budapest, along with the striking office buildings and hotels typifying today’s contemporary metropolis.
Budapest’s first Bauhaus design school was set up in 1928. Six years later, local architects converted a former transformer station on Kazinczy Street, today the Museum of Electrical Engineering in the party quarter. Other Bauhaus examples are in residential districts such as Pasarét and Újlipótváros, where the Jézus Szíve Parish Church was considered too modern for its time in 1933. The first reinforced concrete church in Budapest, it was mockingly called ‘God’s Garage’. Today, it is a cherished destination for fans of 20th-century architecture.
Back in the centre of town, the centrepiece of focal Erzsébet Square is a former Bauhaus-style bus station that has since been refashioned to house a two-floor destination dedicated to late-night urban drinking.
Close by on Budapest’s main square, Vörösmarty Square, a soaring glass-and-steel façade houses boutiques and cafés, an example of contemporary architecture alongside the elaborate Art Nouveau of the Gerbeaud confectionery.
Multifunctional architecture underscores the city’s most recent creations. Down the Danube from the city centre, Bálna Budapest blends history and modernity. Comprised of two parallel century-old red brick warehouses joined by a whale-shaped glass shell, this riverfront complex hides shops and cultural hubs in its belly, while stylish pubs provide a pretty panorama on its side. Its creator, Kas Oosterhuis, was also responsible for Dubai Sports City and the Capital Centre in Abu Dhabi.
Further down the river towards Rákóczi Bridge, the Millennial Cultural Centre is a complex of arts venues by the terminus of tram line 2. The Palace of Arts (Müpa) with its world-quality concert hall, the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Theatre (Nemzeti Színház) are all found here. Versatile yet graceful, the complex functions as a cultural citadel suited to the needs of today.
Across the river, the new wing at the Rudas Baths has enhanced everyone’s spa experience thanks to colourful Zsolnay tiles and a rooftop hot tub with a panoramic portrayal of the Pest skyline. The architects still managed to honour the building’s Ottoman heritage, nearly 500 years of history still in evidence today.
Below ground at nearby Gellért Square is perhaps the most stunning example of the stations conceived for the new green metro line 4, Tamás Komoróczy’s mosaic interior decorating the deepest of the ten stops unveiled in 2014.
But Budapest continues to embrace the new. Further contemporary projects include the new Telekom headquarters, a cultural complex being developed in City Park (Városliget) and the proposed MOL skyscraper at Kopaszi Dam (Kopaszi-gát).