architecture : urban : visual culture

"Completed whole" - Castle complex and Conference center

The award winning plans for the reconstruction of the Castle complex and Conference center at Fertőd had been executed. The architects, Csaba Molnár DLA, Viktor Szentkuti and Halmai Dénes added a connecting wing and an inside court, thereby put the finishing touch to the complex.

The current reconstruction is a restoration and utilization plan for the Fertőd Esterházy Palace building complex. The buildings, the former officer building, Puppet Theatre, Orangery and Water Tower, can be interpreted independently. The aim of the renovation is to reconstruct the building‘s facade, the roof structure and the interiors and to create an event centre and concert hall with the necessary transformation and renewal of its interiors.


The project owner building complex's utilization was the National Office for Cultural Heritage. The current development proposal for the multiple phase reconstruction was submitted in July 2009. After the proposal was successfully chosen, the construction plans were prepared in close collaboration with the science and archaeology research colleagues.

During functional design, we paid maximum attention to the features of the existing building units and the possibility of reconstruction. Consequently, the architectural mass and facades were designed to recall the eighteenth century, Prince Nikolaus, Esterházy "the Magnificent" state, supported by scientific research. The restoration of the former state brings a big change in the case of the Puppet Theatre (which had been modified multiple times and has been recently used as a granary), the Orangery and the completely destroyed Water Tower.


One of the most important criteria for sustainability is the collaboration between the affected parts of the building and their flexible functional divisibility. The four-building elements are practically located linearly — almost without the possibility to access them individually — without touching each other. With such a firm layout the potential for expansion (at this stage) is not assured, only a functional design could be considered, which should provide, besides the possibility of autonomous operation of the building units, also flexible use by joining or separating these linked spaces. This fact led to the functional definition of the individual units.

Puppet — Marionette Theatre

It is an exhibition, show and event space for small concerts, lectures and conferences. It can be used flexibly. The theatre shows the contours of the original space, the orchestra trench (Haydn memorial) and it has a multi-adjustable stage, as well as a "royal box." The auditorium can accommodate 180 people. A special quality of the interior is that the walls lost a significant part of their plaster due to several structural reconstructions and damage. Thus, we kept the remaining plaster on the exposed brick walls. By cleaning and carefully replacing the remaining painting and plaster we make it acceptable and enjoyable. The visible roof structure, based on historical descriptions and recent research, reflects the original mansard roof, slightly modified for today’s event centre function.

Orange House – Orangerie

In terms of the main functions we kept the original one: to winter orange trees, which were needed for the reconstruction of XVIII century small gardens. We reconstructed the original heating so that the large space can be used to host special summer events. The facility rooms for both functions are provided within the building.

Water Tower

It was completely rebuilt using vintage bricks, following the original geometry. In case of events, it functions as a facility space and can be flexibly connected to the adjacent Orangery and Puppet Theatre building. The ground floor provides space for 360-degree projection and it can also be used as a temporary small exhibition room. 15 to 20 people can enjoy the panorama projection at a time. The first floor houses the engineering rooms.

Single-storey connecting wing

The single-storey wing connects the building complex with the small mansion. It has a recreation space with water block which can operate independently or can serve the event spaces.

Regarding the reconstruction, it must be emphasized that in-situ stone elements were kept and reconstructed everywhere. The new stone elements were reconstructed on the basis of existing designs. No doors and windows of buildings have survived. Nor have the archaeological excavations brought to the surface clearly identifiable parts of them, for example hinges, hardware, et cetera. The new windows and doors follow in their design and proportions the scientific conceptual reconstruction plans.

The current state and architectural image, after the renovation and utilization of the ensemble, faithfully and worthily represents the eighteenth century splendour. We believe that the consistent and scientifically supported use of the architectural canon during the current reconstruction is a good start for the refurbishment of the whole building complex. It should be noted that the full utilization requires expansion that is primarily relevant in historically proven locations. In the case of new construction, we believe a modern but humble addition should be created.

Designed functions:

  • A. Ground floor wing on the east side:
    Waiting or resting space for actors and artists with sanitary block. Connection between the Steward's House and the Orangerie. Storage possibilities in the attic: musical instruments, scenery of sets, documents.

  • B. Steward's House:
    Ground Floor: Space with flexible feasabilities (smaller exhibitions, performances, rehearsals), presenting the old contours of spaces. Connection with the dressing rooms through the new ground floor wing.
    First floor: Offices for the personnel of the Eszterháza Cultural Center with rooms for events and meetings, while maintaining the old spaces as well.

  • C. Landscaping:
    The building complex is build around a closed court, which offers passages and resting facilities for the public with the possibility of erecting a temporary stage for events. Parking space on the east side of the building, with an alternative entry for distinguished guests and staff. Can be reached independently and well separated.

The Steward's House completes the musical functions of the first phase of the event center with its ground floor utilities, through the connection of the east side. This east side building can be individually approached and gives space for recreation for performers. We designed a resting and rehearsal spcace according to needs. The whole first floor of the Steward's House is occupied by offices with conference rooms and event room in the center. They are surrounded by social functions and storage facilities. The attic remains functionless.

Architectural interventions:

  • A. Ground floor wing on the east side:
    Completely rebuilt using new materials and technologies, using the old geometry, making it a contemporary but a humble extension. On the east facade, we revoke the old rhythm of windows with only thin cracks in the wall, with the entire window behind it. The gate itself is reconstructed, but with simpler appearance. The west facade facing the court is entirely glazed with a concrete frame while the east facade facing outside is made of brick, painted white. The walls of the Orangerie remain in their original surface. The floor is covered with stone and parquet.

  • B. Steward's House:
    According to the expert's report we eradicated the whole roof structure as well as top roof slab and designed a new one of reinforced concrete. Although we designed a brand new roof structure, parts of the old one still remains in the attic. The facades are renovated and restored with the windows and stone frames of their period. The interior walls are painted white, except for the areas where old paint was discovered, which were renovated. The ground floor rooms have a completely new function while the ones on the first floor regain their old function as offices. The staircase is also new, with an elevator, making the floors accessible. The floor is covered with stone and parquet. We designed a modern and multifunctional lighting system in the childcare room.

  • C. Landscaping:
    The level of the court is lowered according to the new levels of the interiors. We kept the old traffic system where you could pass through the court, passing in front of the buildings as well. The court was designed with a contemporary look and with accordance to recent historical studies.

The HVAC and running water system needs of the buildings affected are satisfied with the extension of the already built system of the west connecting wing.

Csaba Molnár DLA, Viktor Szentkuti, Halmai Dénes

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