architecture : urban : visual culture

How to read the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter

This project is a rehabilitation of a former porcelain factory as a cultural center. The factory is in the town of Pécs, which is situated in the southern part of Hungary, near to Croatia. The factory was founded in 1853, to manufacture hard tile. It was famous for its artistic ceramics, decorative objects and kitchenware products. They also produced architectural ceramics, which were used in lots of secession (art noveau) building. At the end of the 20th century, most of its buildings became useless and were in pour condition. The town decided to renovate the site and fill up with new activities. In 2010, the town of Pécs held the title of the European Capital of Culture, so it gave a chance to realize this project. The factory is still working, but in a smaller part of the area. The bigger part was renovated as a cultural center. In 2008 open architectural competition were organised. The MCXVI architect studio won the first prize, and got the job. After the planning, the construction period was 2009-2011. The cultural quarter consists of three bigger parts. The University Quarter is used by the University of Pécs, Faculty of music and visual arts, with the following activities in different buildings: Ceramics Department, Music Institute, Media Communications department, Faculty of Arts, Visual Arts institute, Sculpture Department, Janus University Theatre. Craftsman's Quarter is mainly about tourism: Zsolnay Family and Factory History Exhibition, Zsolnay ceramics exhibition, cafés, restaurants, shops, Resident accommodations, design center, live Manufacture can be found here. Creative and Family Quarter mainly used by local students and families. The buildings here contains interactive house of playful sciences, Grand Pécs Gallery, Planetarium, Bóbita Puppet Theatre, youth house, concert hall, cafes and park with playground. The main goal of thearchitects was to maintain the very unique atmosphere of this former porcelain factory. Instead of save some special buildings, forms or object, but focus on the milieu. This factory always changed so the architects tried to continue it, using the original structure of the site, clearing it, doing away some parts and adding new ones, using smaller local transformations, instead of big changes. Diversity is also an important feature of this site. The architects intended to avoid using similar design everywhere. That’s why MCXVI cooperated with 9 other architect studios, to maintain the architectural diversity of the site. Some buildings were renovated as they had looked like originally, others were completely transformed into a new shape, keeping just the structure of the house. The Zsolnay Cultural Quarter opened this summer.

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