architecture : urban : visual culture

RE-PLAY - playful and conscious recycling in Sopron

Katinka Kővári's imaginative plan for a Waste-Conscious Center and Playhouse is not only a functional but an educational and playful ode to sustainable living, which is becoming ever more important for the growing population of Sopron.

Choosing the location - Sopron’s Iron-foundry

In my diploma-work, I handle the variety of the waste utilization in the area of the Iron-foundry in Sopron, next to the Austrian border. There is a personal reason why I’ve chosen this location - my grandpa had worked here. We are talking about a territory of 3,5 acres and more than 30 buildings, so I’ve conducted research about the whole structure of the town and nationwide,  related to the function.

Processes in Sopron

There is a determining inner migration from the eastern part of Hungary in the hope of working abroad. However the unemployment rate is 0,2 % in Sopron, the payment incomes don’t get realized in Hungary, there aren’t big, advanced industrial corporations and many jobs in the town. In between 2001 and 2011, the population has grown by 7%, and the growth doesn’t stop. In parallel, 5000 apartments were built during that period, that’s 18% of all the apartments in town. Earlier, it wasn’t really regulated how the town spread out on its surface, now it’s getting handled. The iron-foundry is located in the northwest of the town, then in the nearby, there is the Ágfalvi building estate, this part of Sopron has grown the most by the numbers (16,3%). Large residential areas have grown without basic services.

Overall, there is a tendency of population growth, increasing the amount of housing installed and economic processes. The town is going through a big progress, which will be even larger if the M85 expressway is constructed.

Iron-foundry - past/present

The production began in 1910. After the reconstructions in the 60’s, the foundry became one of the most progressed foundries in the Middle-Europe. The people of the factory have created a great engineering, social, intellectual community. Mostly lock-, door-, and window shoeings and pipe fittings have been produced here. After the regime change in 1990, the factory was a victim of slow devastation and was finally closed in 2006. Now it’s an Austrian private property, it’s unexploited and blank.

architect: Katinka Kővári



Choosing the function

When choosing the function, I was thinking of what has taken place during the technological processes in the foundry (metal smelting, casting, formatting), I’d have liked to carry some of the technological processes somehow, so I arrived into plastic recycling, injection molding, and in the end with a Waste-Conscious Center.

Solutions for treating the waste

For handling the waste, there are the linear (dumping, burning the waste) and the circular solutions (downcycling, upcycling, precycling). In Hungary, the industry usually uses the downcycling method only, which is the least sustainable of the circular ones. There are 4-5 companies which deal with plastic downcycling and not only selling the plastic, in these places, only minced or granulated plastic produced though. The Waste-Conscious Centre in Sopron would be a pioneer in this area.

Waste-Conscious Center

Sopron’s northwestern industrial area gets wedged in the town’s structure but it has also a surface which is transformed and has been placed in a central position. The evolving subcentre can work like a magnet in this situation. Under the present circumstances, a Waste-Conscious Centre, including circular solutions bound with social features, looks like an operable thing.


architect: Katinka Kővári


Development of the area of the Waste-Conscious Center - zones

I have divided the area to semiprivate, private, semipublic, public zones.

Private zone: plastic downcycling factory

The Plastic Downcycling Factory would be joining the two-years-old waste-selector in Sopron. The process of recycling is being prepared at the waste-selector, this technology could be hard to handle in the downtown environment. However, the sequent related elaborations (downcycling and related social features) require close connections to the urban environment. I’ve visited the two biggest Hungarian plastics downcycling factories and got information from them. With the help of knowing the old Iron-foundry’s workflow and with the received information from the existing downcycling factories, I draw up a feasible alternative for the Downcycling Factory in Sopron. This technological centre consists of seven halls (in all 9188 m2) and places for substances (2256 m2).

Semi-private zone

In this zone, joining an already existing small metalworking firm, there is the factory area connected to the Downcycling Factory which can be passed out to technological partners; business entrance and parking spaces. This is the zone of producing, it is for rent to partners who have connections to these technologies directly.

Semi-public zone

Next to the industrial function, there is a transition zone amongst the social surface and the technology. This part of the Waste-Conscious Centre is the reason why there should be an active connection with the people and should have easy access. The area of the old Foundry is not far away from the downtown, it’s an industrial territory though, so it can function as a kind of bridge between them. This space, based on the thinking of waste-conscious lifestyle, forms a community. Circular solutions appear in its parts: the innovation centre lab connected to the downcycling factory, the upcycling workshops (which have a goal that the recycling should not only be accomplished through the industry), the re-market and the Re-Play / Waste-Conscious Playhouse designed by me.

architect: Katinka Kővári


Public zone - public space

It’s a park, which is the foreground of the whole centre, points out to the old times, and is open to everybody. That’s the part of the Foundry which is most taken back by nature. The location of the new private road and parking spaces are considered by the already existing trees there and go along through the place of demolished building hold-over and coated surfaces.

The main building

The building is under local protection, lays through barely the whole foundry’s plot. In the old times, this was the place for social areas, in the new center it serves the same function. On the ground floor, there will be the spaces used by the crowd which connect to the technological and public zones also. On the upper floor, there will be the rooms, which are used less frequently (offices, offices for rent, showrooms, conference rooms).

Development step-by-step

All the elements of the Waste-Conscious Centre won’t be realized at the same time, but all three parts of it starts from the basics, develops step-by-step, involving other buildings too. There will be some buildings in bad shape, extensions, hold-overs, getting demolished. An inside private road will be created between Ágfalvi Street and Bessenyő Street, in order to open up the plot and make the better availability of the buildings. Sheer the new road, there are walking zones which help the connections between the buildings. The old road becomes a walking zone, it has the task of presenting the various spots and switch on the different buildings.


architect: Katinka Kővári


The chosen function - RE-PLAY / Waste-Conscious Playhouse

In older times, there was no need to think about recycling, it was a natural thing, actually, it was a must. Nowadays, this "must thing" is gone so there is a need to make a better approach and point out the problems, which ideally should be started in childhood. Re-play is such a playhouse/educational centre, where you can get environment-conscious studies, listen to presentations on the theme, participate in interactive classes even in the open air. During school time, there would be classes held among industrial and urban circumstances, classes similar to an open-air school in the forest with the same methods and approaches. Besides these, in the summertime and in the afternoons there would be an interactive, entertaining, plain games held for children modeled on the functions of "Csodák Palotája" in Budapest.

RE-PLAY - building parts

Re-play is placed in the northeastern side of the Foundry’s area. Its building parts are the Foundry’s Sandworks, the sandcarrier Band-tunnel, and the new Serving building. The new building is connected to the Sandworks on the first floor and among those two there is the courtyard of the playhouse.

The Sandworks and the connected Band-tunnel were constructed in 1963, in the course of Foundry’s reconstruction. The reinforced concrete framework served as the automated installation of the sandmixing’s structure. The sand-transport was solved through the bands which collect the sand coming out of sand-mixer, than the sand went through a Band-tunnel to the foundry hall. After the formatting process, the used sand was transported back to the Sandworks’ building’s upper floor on a switching band bridge. On the southern part of the building switches a tower-like staircase (and elevator shaft) which is a brick structure.

architect: Katinka Kővári


Fit to the existing building - scheme design

It was an important aspect, that the new building should not cut the connection with the court, the arrival should be eye-catching, the Sandworks’ building should not lose his original shape, and the new building as a horizontal element should refer to the old band bridges.

The relation between new and old

The Sandworks will be operable with the Serving building, the Sandworks sole function is to be the spot for games. The new building wants to be a reminder of the past, but there is also the numbers of contradistinctions between new and old: different functions, different use of materials, different colors, different shapes, vertical-horizontal presences. They are each other’s opposite but work hand in hand together. The Serving building can’t exists without the host building, and vice versa.

Use of material

The new building with its recycled steel structures is a reminder of the feeling which was typical like the old Foundry, the metal-pouring, the spirit of the steel and the new building’s structure also connects to the reinforced concrete framework of Sandworks. From the main entrance of the Waste-Conscious Centre, you can see a warning mark.

Using the space

About the building’s operation: it’s a cycling process, just like what the waste-recycling and the workflow of the old Foundry was. The game itself is also a cycling process. The cycle starts with stepping into the Serving building. On the ground floor, we find the guest-hall, the reception, which leads to the first floor, where the serving functions of the playhouse are. There is no harassing function in the Sandworks building, the whole building is for playing, you can enter on the first floor. There is an interactive exhibition on four levels, you can leave the building through the Band-tunnel, especially on a conveyer belt, getting back to the Serving building’s ground floor.

Sandworks - RE-PLAY

During the reconstruction of the building, I tried to save most structures in their original form. Besides the three partition walls, the non-bearing perimeter wall on the eastern side of the first floor will be demolished. This demolition brings back the original idea of the Sandworks’ designer, the large-faced opening above the plinth-effect, solid floor. The passage system is the fixed point in the building, the other areas are for the common or single games so that everybody can find the most adequate environment, depending on what sort of game is played, what requires mobile or easily redeveloped games or furniture.

On the ground floor, there is a connection to the courtyard by opening the large-sized glass-surface. The children can spend their time in places with different clear heights and senses of space. On the highest floor, a new passage-bridge will be positioned on the already existing beams, where the two-leveled games can be started, the bands, trampolines, rope-nets. The first floor is suitable for team works, little courses. The "transformed" kids can leave the playhouse through the Band-tunnel which comes from the basement, and they can arrive back at the Serving building.

architect: Katinka Kővári


Serving Building

On the ground floor, we find the entrance, the reception, the connected rooms and the remained parts of the Band-tunnel’s above-ground building. Sitting on the tunnel’s above-ground building, we can watch short projections. On the first floor, the rational composition of the passage cramps the serving functions together (dressing room, toilet, buffet, dining hall). Looking from the main entrance the two-way cantilever vierendeel structure is levitating in the space, in the hiding of the Re-market’s building, which is in the front of the Serving building. Through the recycled polycarbonate shell, you can see the silhouettes, materials, structures. The transparent polycarbonate perfuses the inner spaces with diffused lights.

Building engineering

The most determining conception in building engineering was to use the waste heat, which arises during the producing technology in the territory of the Downcycling factory, and the use of the renewed energy sources in the nearby Waste-Conscious Centre, which helps to install the heating and refrigeration systems; also to subserve the natural process based air-flow at configuring the ventilation.


login to comment »