architecture : urban : visual culture

Japanese Co-housing in Budapest

Co-housing is a relatively new phenomenon in Hungary, however it is more than usual for Japanese people, for whom Esztella Schneider has made a cosy, green design. 

Based on figures from 2015, 1290 Japanese live in Hungary, out of that approximately 900 live in Budapest. The majority of these people form the executives and employees of the private sector, however a number of them is
here to study music. Due to international marriages 200 Japanese are living in Hungary with permanent resident status.

Japan lies 8924.05 km from our homeland. Arriving to a foreign country in an unkown continent, Japanese people are facing a massive culture shock, as their culture is completely different to the European lifestyle, making their integration cumbersome. To decrease such culture shock, as well as to unburden the integration, a collective housing can provide the solution.

The concept of co-housing is relatively new in Hungary compared to Japan, where this function has been available since the 80's. Co-housing is an ideological association of community-oriented abodes (housing cooperative in this context). The owners and tenants develop their residential area by following common aims and interests with the power of the community collaboration.

Thus, Japanese people living here could live in homes recalling the cultural elements they have already got used to in their homeland. The location is in 38 Csalogány Street, Budapest, District I. Széll Kálmán Square can be seen as a watershed between District II. and XII., as well as an excellent transport node, these factors determined the location. Most of the Japanese are living in these last two districts, as two Japanese school can be founded here: Budapest Japanese School in District XII. and a weekend school in District II. However, the centre of the Japanese culture and entertainment is District VI and VII, as such, this was also take into consideration during the selection of the site for the sake of the swift accessibility.

The site – without buildings – is currently used as a dog run by the citizens. Residential buildings and panel blocks can be found in the neighborhood. A development in an unbroken row is allowed at the corner lot. Important to note, that the streets bracketing the site – Csalogány street and Vándor street – slope, in addition, this latter, street on the west side is a promenade.

The creation of the basic concept of the building had been facilitated by the limitations, such as the location, the size, the geometry of the site, the rate of development and the neighborhood, as the site of interest is a little, northern located featuring development of an unbroken row, irregular rectangle shaped. The rear neighboring building on the south has an open-space yard. The corner lot and the unbroken row characteristic made the L shape development evident that provided a great opportunity for an opening in the rear south-eastern part of the lot, which was needed in terms of the rate of the development and the open-space yard. Being a northern located lot, it was a challenge to provide sufficient light into the building. Concerning the geometry of the lot it had to be figured out how to pick a rational raster-system to satisfy the norms.

As part of the design project, it was another aspect to create private parking places, since it is a centrally located site. As such, one parking place had to be offered per residential unit (altogether 8). This provided the basis of the frame structure system and the raster. Inside the frame structure, the molecular minimized residential units are located in a box-like manner on the stairs. Among the residential units, community spaces are formed. The main community spaces are situated on the ground floor. The whole box system is covered by a huge glass sphere. This glass sphere consists of curtain walls and a glass roof.

The sphere offers resistance to noise and dust, lets more light in, in addition, it provides appropriate temperature during winter time in the building, without the need of heating internal spaces. The "greenhouse" offers the possibility to create green roofs where residents can grow Japanese plants. In
such a manner, the plants would be protected from the climate of our country.

Esztella Schneider

BME Lakóépülettervezési Tanszék

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