architecture : urban : visual culture

‘Művészetek Háza’ - Cultural center in the old synagogue

The diploma project of Tóth Balázs was the renovation of the old synagogue building in Albertirsa and its transformation into a new cultural center. 

My degree project was the renovation of the old synagogue building in Albertirsa and its transformation into a new cultural center. The synagogue was built during the first decade of the 19th century and has preserved its original characteristics through the ages. However its interior equipment has completely lost in a period after the World War II when the building was used for agricultural purposes. During the last 20 years it became disused and has begun degrading. Since 2006 it is the property of the local government and since last year concerts and exhibitions have taken place in the building despite its bad conditions and the lack of the supporting rooms needed by a cultural facility. The building is situated close to the town’s main road, in a residential area. Its lot is quite small and the synagogue has a hidden position among the surrounding houses.

Albertirsa, location analysis

The architectural designing process was preceded by a research to investigate the building’s historical characteristics and its position in Albertirsa by analyzing both the historical and the contemporary structure of the town. The main designing principle was to preserve the building’s original spatial structure and its exterior characteristics while creating a fully functional cultural center. With this preconception the project aims the restoration of the synagogue’s premises to their original state. The main hall becomes a multifunctional event hall. While all the supporting program components, such as the new entrance hall, box office, toilets and dressing rooms, are situated in an extension. The synagogue’s garden is transformed into an urban public space with an area where outdoor cultural events can take place. However this architectural program exceeds the capacity of the small lot that currently belongs to the building. Considering the cultural significance of the old synagogue I propose to extend the site by purchasing an adjacent lot.


The new buildings and the garden’s landscape architecture creates a new composition with the preexistent synagogue. The extensions emphasize the original building due to their long wall-like shapes. These solid ‘walls’ also provide the necessary separation between the residential areas and the cultural center’s site. Contemporary materials such as. concrete, metal and glass are used as structural elements as well as façade cladding surfaces on the extensions. A draw-well is situated on the site which, according to the researches, was used for liturgical purposes by the Jewish community. It remains preserved and is incorporated by the new entrance hall so it becomes a highlight of the interior. At the center of the garden a new weeping willow tree is planted which commemorates the old synagogue and the town’s lost Jewish community.


Tóth Balázs

login to comment »