architecture : urban : visual culture

Budapest Superblock: Catalyst in the „eight-houses”

What does Superblock mean? If a city outgrows people, there's a need for a city within a city. In the specific urban area, it quickly designs an independent living space. Dávid Kálna in his diploma dealt with this phenomenon.


When the metropolis outgrows people, a need for a city within a city arises. In the specific urban area, it quickly designs an independent living space, which incorporates the city’s infrastructural features through its own filter, customized to specific local needs. There are several buildings or blocks located within the superblock area, between which a different quality of space and road network is formed, with reduced traffic intensity, and partial or total exclusion of vehicles. The block primarily works as a residential place, but its functional composition is not formulaic. It is an inward-outward operating system of complementary units, adapting to the urban situation.

architect: Dávid Kálna


The area takes place in the 8th district of Budapest, in block 302, bounded by Kerepesi road – Festetics – Mosonyi – Lóvásár streets. Parcel Number: 34581. The block is called „Eight-houses” and was built in the 1880s, based on the plans of Gyula Rohlitz, in paralell to Keleti Railway Station, which he also designed. Together, the two blocks form a theoretic gate to Budapest’s historic cityscape.

The special feature of this installation is the 5 meter wide gaps left between the houses. Even nowadays, the potential they contain is sometimes manifested in its own chaotic charm. They are utilized as various operational and economic buildings. The internal structure has decayed over time. The constant appearance of building enclosures and parking spaces alienated its users from generous space management. The noise and smog flowing into the courtyards blur the border between metropolis and living space.

architect: Dávid Kálna


Research and studies have shown, that the operation of a „superblock” is not caused by one single building within the block. The architectural answer lies in the creation of catalyst(s). They are wedged between existing buildings as components and drivers for the development of the block. The process of catalysis can be understood in 3 aspects.

It forms a filter from the metropolis. The drastic reduction of the noise and smog in an urban chaos implies the creation of an excellent livin space. This filter is not airtight. Positive urban pulsations owing to the intermodal nature of the area are passing through. The resulting space serves as a green, human-scale alternative to the neighboring Baross Square.

The most busy Kerepesi road offers a representation opportunity, which is further enhanced by its intermodal being. The raster and window partitioning of the related buildings in the block can be identified by the construction required by office functions so that they can continue to function as rental offices. The key to success is the flexibility provided by the catalyst, that is connected to the buildings, which fills a 5 meter wide inter-building space. The traffic lane, that links the three buildings to each other, results in variable use of office buildings and the creation of recreational spaces.

architect: Dávid Kálna

Due to the fact that existing buildings are located in a monumental environment, external energy modernization is not expedient, but it is possible to compensate for the energy loss with the addition of the appearing new "component". The southerly exposure of the large front facade is determinative in optimizing the winter-summer energy balance of the entire office complex, and in creating internal homeostasis. The building will have an air-conditioning facade on a surface of approximately 1200 m2. An enlarged replica of a known mechanical apparatus may provide an answer to the utilization of the radiation energy from the Sun. Tha facade system can work as a giant solar collector. If we are able to control the amount of infiltrated air, a favorable air temperature would take place between the two glass-shells both in winter and summer. For utilization of aerothermal energy, a bore snake should be installed on each level, in which an antifreeze transmission medium would circulate. The bore snake transports the medium into a heat exchanger in the attic of the three office buildings. The produced energy is responsible for the supply of DHW in the buildings.

architect: Dávid Kálna


The building has an arcade + 4 levels + a roof terrace. Its height is adjusted to the hight of the existing buildings. The horizontal and vertical supporting structure is made of reinforced concrete, which changes on the roof terrace to filigree steel structure. The considered foundation is the reinforced concrete structure of the underground garage. The design of the roof on the terrace is a flat hot roof, but above the air-conditioning facede it’s a low-slope cold roof.

The drainage of the water takes place on hidden gutters. Glass and steel dominates in the surfaces of the building. It creates a strong contrast with the neoclassic environment. The vegetation integrated into the air-conditioning facade is a permanent fringe-free decorative element of the facade. It is technically an artificial landscape. Artificial, because it is a component of a building. Landscape as it is a vertical projection of an urban oasis.

Dávid Kálna


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