The architectural transformation of Váci 1.
Structural, functional and design changes in the rejuvenation of a World Heritage Building
Váci 1 is a UNESCO World Heritage listed building designed by Hungarian architect Ignác Alpár, and constructed between 1911 and 1915. During its first 105 years it had multiple and diverse uses. Its original purpose (as communicated in the invitation-only design tender announced in 1908) was to serve as the headquarters of the first Hungarian Bank (Pesti Hazai Első Takarékpénztár Egyesület), but it also accommodated stores on the ground floor and residential units on the top level. During the period of 1990–2005 the building was home to the Budapest Stock Exchange. Between 2005 and 2015 the ground floor areas with direct street access functioned as retail units, but the majority of the building stood empty, waiting for its renaissance.
2015 marked the year when property developer Horizon Development acquired the building with the intention to redevelop it for complex functionality, housing retail and office units, restaurants and bars. The developer authentically restored the building’s historic spaces and architectural elements: lead glass windows designed by famous art deco glass artist Miksa Róth, columns, tympanums, stone reliefs, tiles and mosaics, golden and marble surfaces, lighting fixtures. This created the most breathtaking setting for one of the largest and most exclusive H&M flagship stores worldwide. The mixed-use building – that elegantly combines heritage parts with modern spaces – opened its doors in Q2 2016, thanks to the coordinated professional effort of the design, project management, construction and sustainability divisions of the general contractor, DVM group.
In order to bring back life to the building, it had to go through a major structural, functional and design transformation. The developer set the objectives below, and successfully implemented all of them:
- the optimization of horizontal and vertical traffic in the modern spaces:
- installing new elevators (11 in total)
- creating separate elevator shafts for the individual functions (office, retail, skybar)
- fitting in new escalators
- creating new staircases and bridges (joists)
- dedicating new exits
- elegantly linking the heritage and modern spaces
- visual separation of retail and office airspaces with a lightweight, light-transmitting lamella structure
- introducing a new – more refined and elegant – color palette across the entire building, with shades of white, gold, brown and beige
- generating new community areas (mezzanine, 3rd and 4th floors)
- creating green surfaces (green walls in tenant areas, plant decoration, Japanese garden)
- the conscious and consistent application of the V1 logo and the lacy pattern in various spaces/on different materials:
- reception counter decoration
- all external and internal signage (flags, boards, small panels, tenant lists)
- tailor-made wallpaper and carpet
- design by the elevator doors
- sophisticated engraved lacy details on each step of the staircase
- atrium decoration with a divider function
- foil applied to glass surfaces
The sustainable and innovative technical solutions incorporated by the developer contribute to the property’s optimal, efficient energy and water use and reduced environmental footprint, and entitle Váci 1 for its BREEAM In-Use certificate (expected in Q4 2016). The DVM group office – a candidate in the LEED for Commercial Interiors category – is also expecting its accreditation at the end of this year.
Companies that call Váci 1 their new home are H&M (flagship store, headquarters and showroom); the restaurant, store and terrace of Hard Rock Café Budapest; the chocolate manufacture and confectionery of Szamos Gourmet Palace; DVM group (the company offering the most comprehensive range of integrated building services in Hungary); and international online game developer Play’n GO. Prime office space on the 3rd and 4th floors (1.900 sqm) is still available for lease with excellent views and technical features. The St. Andrea Wine & Skybar on the 6th floor rooftop will not only offer the most spectacular views of the Hungarian capital from Spring 2017 (Vörösmarty Square, Fashion Street, the Parliament, Váci Street, the river Danube and the Buda Castle), but also bring the most exquisite wine- and champagne selection of Egerszalók-based St. Andrea Winery and Vineyard to downtown Budapest.
Apart from being introduced to the international property community on the official Budapest stand at expos such as MIPIM 2016 in Cannes or EXPO REAL 2016 in Munich, Váci 1 is also a proud winner of the European Property Awards, to be handed out in London in October this year.