Budapest Offices


Project of the Year: a university campus and a green oasis in the heart of Budapest

May 10th, 2016

As a part of the Office of the Year competition, the winner in the Developed Project of the Year category turned out to be CEU’s re-building program, which is a unique development-renewal arrangement right in Budapest’s city centre.




The project contains the renewal and the reconfiguration of CEU’s 6 buildings with a total area of 35 000 m2. The project’s main goal is to regroup the now scattered and distant science and administrative units and relocate them – this will enable the university to function more efficiently and grants it a proper campus. The designing process began in 2011, while the construction began in 2014 – and it’s still underway. According to plans, the project will be realised and finished in three different phases by 2019, which was designed by Dublin-based agency, O'Donnell & Tuomey in cooperation with their Hungarian partner, M-Teampannon Ltd. The first and second phases of construction are carried out by MARKET-STRABAG.

roof garden campusFollowing the reconstruction process, major conferences can be hosted at the university, as one of the biggest elements of the development is the reconstruction of the lecture hall. AS CEU can be found at the centre of Budapest, on the outskirts of a UNESCO heritage site, a very intriguing aspect of the designs is the plan to coordinate and harmonise the architectural legacy with modern, 21st century needs and demands. The first phase is set to be finished this summer, which also includes the construction of a brand new building under 15. Nádor street, while the existing building under number 13. will be renovated and altered. The new campus will be somewhat bold but will have a very open and welcoming atmosphere at the same time and will be comprised of ample, interconnecting spaces.

The developers put an emphasis on sustainability as well, which led to the acquisition of a “Very Good” BREEAM certification. The significance of this is well-demonstrated by the fact that CEU is the second superior education facility in continental Europe to receive such merits – the first in East-Central Europe. Environmental consciousness will be represented by energy efficient appliances and service building engineering systems, the rooftop garden that covers two separate blocks and contains 2000 species of plants, the number of bicycle parking boxes, and by the optimisation of natural lights and shading.

roof garden uniGábor Borbély MRICS, a member of the professional jury, CBRE’s market research and assessment manager has commented on the winning project as follows: “Fortunately we’re having more and more opportunities to evaluate developments, and as the applications demonstrated, the aesthetic and technical qualities of these particular developments can indeed mark a new era in the real estate market’s cycle. The CEU Campus Project, however, clearly stands out from the range of these otherwise excellent developments. Its outstanding quality has four reasons. On one hand, the construction work is an enormous challenge, as reconstruction, demolition, heightening and building (from scratch) processes will lead to the completion of the new complex. Moreover, the estate has a great architectural responsibility being situated at such a vital location, as it has to be organically integrated into a highly protected cityscape, while at also has to fulfil the highest level of 21st century service demands. In continuation, the development helps to keep an inherently urban function, education, in the inner city’s structure. At last, but definitely not least, this investment bears an unbelievable level of complexity, which requires the maximum in all possible aspects of development. We’re very excited to see the results – it wasn’t even a question amongst the judges that out of all the intriguing developments currently being underway, CEU Campus Project was the most exciting one.”

Pál Baross FRICS, the director of the CEU Campus Project has also explained his views on the development. “Central European University has given me new challenges, compared to my previous real estate development project. The first being that it’s a building where community functions dominate over workplace ones. The Internet- and network-based education requires the idea of “studying and learning everywhere” to be provided, compared to the usual hall-held lectures and classes – which resulted in the fundamental re-imagination and redefinition of what we know as a communal area. The second new aspect was the design of the facades: they needed to emit the timeless dignity of a public building – in contrast to my previous works, in which modern and contemporary impressions dominated. The third challenge, which perhaps was based on traditional developmental experiences the most, was the difficulty of proposing a reconstruction nearly as big as 40 000 m2 in the historic inner area of Budapest, which involves five different lots, pre-existing buildings and a strong change of functions. This hasn’t been achieved by others” – explained the director the magnitude and the complexity of the project.



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