architecture : urban : visual culture

Balokány Bath in Pécs - luxury in minimalist style

"The new bath is a salutation to the values of the past, while it satisfies the demands of the contemporary architecture in the present." Gábor Kovács drew inspiration from the big masters of contemporary architecture, but did not forget to acknowledge the history of the Balokány Bath in Pécs. 


The Balokány Park is one of the largest combined green area in downtown Pécs. It includes an artificially built lake and a bath, which has been unused for decades. The area is situated between Kodály Centre and Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, which are connected with a walkway within the confines of the European Capitals of Culture.


The bath was built by a businessman called Adolf Engel. An Olympic competitor and swimming champion called Oszkár Abay-Nemes started his career here. At the beginning of the 30's, the bath of Pécs was completely redesigned on the basis of Jenő Dulánszky's plans. After the opening ceremony, it was called Népfürdő (meaning 'public bath'), but 6 years later it was renamed for Városifürdő ('city bath'). The period from the 60's until the 70's was the golden age for the bath, but in the early 80's, it was eventually closed by the lack of hygienic permissions. Later the buildings of the bath granted the national monument status.


My aim was to revitalize the bath in a contemporary way, as well as to propose an architectural redesign concept for the park. Originally, the bath was composed of three main units, which included two outdoor pools. I aspired to redesign and complete the characterful and grandstand-like building with contemporary elements. In the hope of a result in a recreational building, which reacts to its own history and present surroundings in a compact style.

Urban context

In the new conception, the middle block with the main entrance is separated from the other two elements. The remaining building on the east side of this block is proposed for a studio or a temporary exhibition zone for the University of Art, and the old buffet on the west side could get a new function as a coffee bar facing Lake Balokány. In the interest of revitalizing the park, these new functions are situated on a new inside walkway through the lake to the cultural quarter.


Presently, the existing building has been completely amortized. One side of the grandstand has collapsed and got a safety roof for conservation. The new building was designed to be integrated into the scheduled façade of the existing building. Inside the contour line of the old building, a lobby, a reception, changing rooms and supply rooms have been placed. Below the ground level, an interior pool and the sauna world have been situated, a staircase leads out to an outdoor pool from the latter.

During the formation of the mass, I brought the characteristic shape of the grandstand around the outdoor pool abstractly, placed on tight walls, it got a feeling of lightness. In the inside of that triangle-shaped form, different types of spa services have been fitted, such as Kneiptrample line, private aroma therapy bathtubs and massage rooms. On the surface of the mass, the random, but orientated holes were designed for letting the steam out and allowing the sunshine to come in, this helps to relax during the therapies.

The separation wall between the bath and the park is made of concrete grey bricks, which refer to the existing brick façade. The new bath is a salutation for the values of the past, while it satisfies the demands of the contemporary architecture in the present.

Gábor Kovács



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