architecture : urban : visual culture

Hungarosauna, Hajdúszoboszló

Scheduling, sustainability and expandability are all important aspects of the "Hungarosauna" designed by Gyula Takács. Besides of designing the building, the architect increased the scale of biodiversity. 

Concept design and landscaping plan for the southwestern area of the boating lake as part of the Hajdúszoboszló Spa Complex, Architectural Competition, 2019

I. Landscape architectural program

1. Use of public areas, access, focal points

Today the center of public use is the Szent István Park, which borders the Hajdúszoboszló Spa Complex (Hungarospa) from the south. This wide promenade, decorated with flower beds in summer, offers many attractions (such as the Bell Tower) and this is where the main entrance to the spa complex opens from. Although traffic is lighter in winter, still this is the place where spa visitors get around most frequently. My concept is based on opening a perpendicular axis with the aim of incorporating a less used stretch of coastline in the tourist circulation. The proposed landscaping solution, with its lakeside promenade accompanied by piers and planter boxes of aquatic plants, can meet this goal, especially in summer; but if completed with a sauna building, it can attract people throughout the year. It is also important to emphasize that the sauna function seems particularly suitable for substantially extending the summer high season, providing constant tourist traffic throughout the year. Currently only the indoor spa function is suitable for this purpose, the perfect spatial complement of which could be the sauna facility provided on the design site, combined with outdoor chilling options and a healing water pool floating on the lake surface.

Regarding the focal points of access, the boating lake and its surroundings largely follow the seasonal characteristics of the beach (summer) and the spa (winter). By introducing the above-mentioned new feature, new traffic would appear on the design area. From direction of József Attila utca, visitors will discover both the promenade and the sauna.

Hungarosauna - architect: Gyula Takács

2. Terrain cross-sections

With the help of the terrain cross-sections, I present four aspects of the landscape design concept that allow the proposed plan to create a situation much more favorable than today’s one. Four rows illustrate the current situation on the left and the proposed changes on the right, where first the changes in urban walls, secondly the noise load, thirdly the pavement, and finally the biodiversity can be seen. Black histograms at the bottom of the sectional figures indicate the scale/size/mass of the specific aspect.
From the point of view of the urban walls, the current situation is defined by the fence on József Attila utca, all dissolved by the proposed plan keeping only the reeds that function as a natural partition.

The design area’s position is decisive for the noise load. The traffic of the motorway on the west side generates a constant source of noise. Although opening up the design area would not change this noise fundamentally, but the transitional nature of the proposed use of space could lead to an improvement in the zone shown in the figure, mainly due to the installation of different screens and planter boxes.

Pavements currently appear in the form of a motorway and bike lane beyond the fence, and as the sidewalk or the lakeside promenade. This will be changed with the new development as the paved surfaces within the design area cross and intertwine the park and the strip of planter boxes with aquatic plants, thereby providing a passage to the lakeshore. When moving further in this direction, first the wooden lakeside promenade and then the three protruding piers stretching over the water surface provide a new quality compared to the current condition of the walkways.

An important element of the concept is to increase the scale of biodiversity as much as possible. This can be achieved on the one hand by preserving the current vegetation characteristics and on the other by planting native hydrophyte species. The proposed plant species require some kind of water coverage, which can be ensured by utilizing the water of the lake. This can be easily solved with small drains laid under the walking surface of the promenade. Thus, it is expected that some invertebrate and vertebrate species currently living in the lake would be able to successfully inhabit new wetlands appearing in the form of the planter boxes.

Hungarosauna - architect: Gyula Takács

3. Vegetation

During the site visit in the winter, in the design area I identified one or more specimens of the following woody plant species: London plane (Platanus x acerifolia), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), white willow (Salix alba), juniper (Juniperus sp.), silver birch (Betula pendula), small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata), and various shrubs. Most of the trees are in the zone between the fence and the lakeside promenade, forming a park, and some can be found between the promenade and the edge of the lake. The current tree stock will be fully preserved. The parkland provides natural protection towards the lake, it also offers shade and contributes to maintaining biodiversity. An important part of the current vegetation is the common reed (Phragmites australis) that stretches almost the entire length of the design area. The lakeside promenade runs in front of the reeds, and from this “corridor”, being enclosed from direction of the lake, three protrusions stretch over the water surface. This gesture borrows playfulness to the walkway by breaking the monotony of the promenade, offers a place to relax and contemplate, while also gives the choice between sunshine and shade. In addition, reeds provide habitat for many invertebrate and vertebrate species.

On the other side of the promenade, alongside the road, planter boxes will be placed. These planters allow the presentation of herbaceous plant species that are native elements of marsh and lake plant communities in Hungary. Their water supply is provided by the water of the lake let in through small canals under the promenade. In addition to their decorative function, in summer they will also have a tempering effect on the microclimate of the promenade and the park, and visitors can get familiar with these indigenous species of colorful flowers. All of the following species I recommend can be planted here, and, in terms of habitat requirements, they fit into the coastal biotope of the Hajdúszoboszló boating lake: marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris), water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides), marsh helleborine (Epipactis palustris), arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), yellow iris (Iris pseuacorus), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica), flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus).

The concept thus offers the possibility of crossing between walking areas created parallel to each other due to the characteristics of the design site. All this is done by offering a choice, attracting people to the lakeside, taking advantage of existing scenes (park, reeds) and adding new ones (planter boxes, piers stretching over the water).

Hungarosauna - architect: Gyula Takács

II. Architectural program

1. Siting and context

The proposed building works as a physical closure of the linear stripes of groves, planter boxes, promenade and piers. The whole building mass delimits the spa area from the open lakeside section, while its main function, namely the sauna is already placed above the water. The sauna building is accessible both from the spa area and from the park, welcoming guests throughout the year. Its role as a season extender appreciates the area and gives new focus not only to the spa complex, but also to the city and the country.

2. Features

The sauna building includes all the functions essential to a sauna session: changing rooms, showers, sauna lounge, drinking water, ice, salt, natural aromas… But guests also have a unique panorama and spatial experience in the sauna area with views of the coastal reeds, the water surface and the park. This feature does not compete with the current Hajdúszoboszló Spa Complex (Hungarospa), but rather enhances and complements it by functioning as part of it. Steam cabin supplied with thermal water, potable healing water and thermal water pool floating on the lake surface provide a new quality of sauna sessions, which can only be experienced here in Hajdúszoboszló: this is Hungarosauna.

Scheduling, sustainability and expandability are all important aspects of the investment, just like the adaptation to unexpected economic situations. This is also true for landscape architecture and architectural elements. The sauna building standing on the lakeside and partly in the water, together with the attached floating pool of healing water and the sunbathing hill introduce a year-round new feature-group to the area. At the same time, the sauna building is operational even without the floating platform. In this case, an outdoor cold plunge tub will be placed at the end of the building.

Hungarosauna - architect: Gyula Takács

3. Structure

The building has a wooden pillar-frame structure with cross-laminated lintel. The use of renewable energy (solar panels on rooftops) and the environmentally conscious use of materials (wood from sustainable forest management) minimize the ecological footprint of the building. The statue-like building, covered with wood inside and out in a homogeneous way, seems like a tree trunk.

4. Street furniture

Benches are designed to fit the rhythm of the decking and have a uniform layout: they are 1.5 meters wide, which makes them ideal for leisure. At the same time, they have smart features, some of them have horizontal design or fractured lines, with built-in water tap. Some benches are heated in winter or cooled in summer. Which bench to get exactly what extra functionality will be decided by community planning, this way locals can take an intellectual and emotional ownership of these objects and the new public space.

Gyula Takács
MSc Architect


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