architecture : urban : visual culture

Big dream of a little village

"My conceptual idea was that the pool area should be placed under the ground. When composing the bath, my hand was led by the landscape and natural conditions. Make the thermal bath transparent, luminous and clear while the landscape is talking." - says Teodóra Papp who designed a thermal bath as her diploma 

Mátrafüred village lies at the south side of Mátra Mountain, the southwestern foot of Mount Kékes, an elevation of 320 to 390 meters, on the shore of Bene Stream. Mátra, which lies in a picturesque environment and is known as a climatic health resort, is a popular destination not only for ordinary tourists but also for people who are looking for healing. The cold water outdoor spa opened in 1893, and the whole economy of the village was built on tourism. The spa had been operating for nearly one hundred years, until it was forced to close down in 1989 due to its deteriorating condition. The closure of the spa led to a huge loss for the inhabitants of the village, caused a painful shortage in the life of the settlement. In the area of the former bustling spa, today there are only ruins of the past. The dream of the small village is the reopening of the spa, now with thermal water, in a partly closed way.


Thermal bath - architect: Teodóra Papp


Walking through the small village you can enjoy the rusticity: parks with trees and small family houses. It is difficult to imagine creating a monumental, modern and stranger "object" in this context. My conceptual idea was that the pool area should be placed under the ground. When composing the bath, my hand was led by the landscape and natural conditions. Proximity to nature had to be a continually enjoyable experience at any point of the building. Make the thermal bath transparent, luminous and clear while the landscape is talking.

Only the departure building is visible from the street front, which is displayed on the scale of the family houses. It appears like a well: its role is functional, because the stairs and elevators for vertical traffic are there, and on the other hand, it is symbolic, as it is lead to the depths of the mountain. Reinforced concrete boxes with various functions have been placed under the ground’s original level. The height of these boxes is determined by the function and their position is dominated by the terrain. The adjacent courtyards bite the bathing area that fits into the terrain, so the bathing area breaks down and goes down to the terrain, to the nature, down to Bene Stream. Exterior spatial relationships are strong, at every point of the bath there is an exit to the yards. In connection with the floor plan design, it was an important concept to minimize the number of doors, which allowed the visitor to walk freely within, to swim freely from the inside pool to the outside one. It is essential that the experience of bathing is not created by the complementary technical tricks, but by the created spaces and space relations. The park on the roof can be used by the village: it allows village people to go down to the stream, relax, have fun, organize events. So the village can not only get the long-awaited tourist attraction, but also gain a new place for their events.


Thermal bath - architect: Teodóra Papp

Thermal bath - architect: Teodóra Papp


The view of the mountains is clear from inside, while the bath building with its grassy top can hardly be seen from elsewhere. The building is not about the exterior but what is inside, about the ritual, just as it does in the East. It's about water, concrete, stone and wood, light, sound, and shadows. It gives the impression that the building is older than its neighbors, as old as the mountain, which has always been here.

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