architecture : urban : visual culture

Preservation and functionality - the new entrance of the Hilton Budapest hotel

The northern entrace of the Hilton Budapest hotel has been renovated in order to ease the traffic inside the Buda Castle. Architect Gábor Pályi, with the help of Julia Vargha and Zoltán Labádi perfectly incorporated the entrace to the larger architectonic environment and the remnants of the medieval monastery uncovered in the process.

Driven by the aim to render the tourist flow undisturbed, and to preserve the caverns and caves in the Buda Castle intact, it was a long lived objective to eliminate the bus traffic. Hilton Budapest hotel also joined in with this initiative by making the building accessible not only through the current main entrance via Hess András square (which guests often access by bus), but also through a new entrance, which can be approached from outside the castle wall. The new pavilion entrance, which was built outside the castle wall, can be reached via the extension of the Hunyadi János service road which is located beside the Fisherman’s Bastion.

The new entrance also brought about alterations to the interior. The check-in and check-out of guests who arrive to the hotel or leave by bus takes place in the reception area, which was developed along the courtyard of the one-time refectorium of the Hilton Dominican monastery. Up until now, this monument area was used as a storehouse and it now has a touristic function. It became possible to connect this area directly with the public flow on the different levels of the northern wing with the help of two new panoramic lifts, from which a new viewpoint of the remnants of the monument can be enjoyed.

When investigating the side of the castle wall, it became clear that the castle wall consists both of natural rocks and built wallings. Where we planned to build the entrance, at only a few meters high, we discovered a natural cavity which was of a considerable width, but only 40 cm high. Following this, the conservation of this natural formation became a primary aim and the only thing we had left to do was to make the floor sink a few meters and this immediately resulted in space for the new entrance.

Since the pavilion entrance should ensure that guests can get on and off buses while being protected from elements of the weather, we designed a light consoled roof with a corten standing seam shell which is supported by light steel pillars, and with an air conditioned glass "box". The rest of the entrance is covered by natural limestone and with an imitation of wood facing. The pavilion is joined to the castle wall by a glass roof, which ensures an upward view and allows light to penetrate the area. This is immediately followed by a natural cave ceiling, which is the natural continuation of the lateral wall rocks. The necessary reinforced concrete beams are covered with a mirror surface, thus enlarging the natural space.

The two lifts enable guests to arrive at the level of the cloister of the monastery. From here, through the glass wall, they are faced with the new glass railing of the Babits promenade and a panorama of the parliament. In order to allow for more light to come through, with the help of narrow windows, we connected with the reception area i.e. the former refectorium of the monastery of which the foundation walls still stand, with the cloister. The interior design of this area praises the work of English interior designer colleagues.

After checking in, and while being elevated to the hotel rooms (which were refurbished at the same time as the new entrance was built), there is nothing else left for guests to do but to enjoy the sight of the monastic courtyard through the other two new glass lifts starting at the side of the cloister, and to enjoy their stay in Budapest.


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