architecture : urban : visual culture

The New Budapest Velodrome, all thews and sinews

The BIVAK group's (Áron Vass-Eysen, Tamás Máté) plan for the New Budapest Velodrome is a perfect example of assimilating and reflecting on the environment and cultural history upon constructing a building. With the jury's words: "The dynamic design that uses a structural language similar as the former gas-tanks and the railway bridge as a reference to the industrial past results in a contemporary amphitheatre." 

Design Concept

The New Budapest Velodrome adds new functions of metropolitan and international importance to the existing uses of the former Óbuda Gasworks site, a major brownfield area in the northern suburb of Budapest, subject to regeneration activities for the past two decades. The architectural design of the velodrome is based on the area’s industrial heritage as well as the structure of the nearby railway bridge.

Concerning the size of the building volume, Budapest Velodrome will be a massive landmark for the whole neighbourhood. Approaching it from the river or the nearby rail line or even from above, on board an airplane approaching the Hungarian capital, it will be a signature part of the Budapest skyline. The skeletal frame with its half-open, half-covered jogging track inside is the dominant element of the façade. The structure provides shelter and functions as public recreation space.

The form of the structure recalls the frames supporting the huge gas containers that were once emblematic buildings on site, but sadly demolished by now. The building also represents the ethos of sports: there is no redundancy just the powerplay of muscles, as the circular steel structure on top of the pillars handles the forces holding the roof above the velodrome. Within and below this pure, rational, industrial structure there is an active community life.

Master Planning, Urban Design and Architectural Concept

The widest part of the roughly triangular gasworks site, on the northeast, allows the best location for the velodrome that also enables direct access to and high visibility from the river. Form follows function and as a result, the volume and silhouette of the velodrome make it the largest structure, a new landmark similar as the historic tar-works and water tower were responsible for the identity and the visual orientation, simply as the result of their technology determined architecture.

Flying roofs that curve in the opposite direction are capable to bridge large spans and are ideal for covering large halls. A reconsidered version of this roofing form was used, as in this case, the curve under pressure is made as a steel structure that has room for an additional function inside it. The form of the roof shapes the functional requirements of the interior it covers and depending on its height provides extra shelter for a variety of functions beneath as a covered open space.

Among the pillars, there is room for community functions related to cycling, like a coffee-shop with terrace, trial track, an adventure park for all ages with climbing wall, gathering place (the starting and finishing point for mountain bike tours and competitions), bike rental and repair shop. There is a running track and a walkway within the elevated, curved, circular truss structure that holds the roof starting from the level of smaller trees and elevating to above the level of the large trees thus opening a view to the city at its peak.

Excerpt from the Jury’s Report:

"The proposal provides an excellent relation between the planned function with the surroundings of the building. The dynamic design that uses a structural language similar as the former gas-tanks and the railway bridge as a reference to the industrial past results a contemporary amphitheatre. The proposal is among the designs, where the volume and appearance of the building represents the best the feelings of a cyclist, freedom, being in nature, velocity, drive and by accident, even the deformed, broken wheel.
The fore-axis of the cycle track is laid perpendicularly to the river Danube, thus the entrances for the athletes and teams open on the shorter sides, whereas visitor entrances are located on the longer sides, where the structure reaches its highest points, providing an ideal solution for crowd management and visitor orientation. All planned access route, roads, parking places, pedestrian walkways and the bike paths provide an ideal circulation leading to these entrances.

…In summary, the proposed design is outstanding in its relation to the history and the future of the site while its architecture clearly suggests its function. Largely it satisfies the needs of athletes and visitors. The circular ambulatory poses a problem and a risk from the perspective of the operation and the feasibility of the load bearing structure and the connections with other structural elements of the building."

The Jury awarded 2nd Prize the proposal

BIVAK (Áron Vass-Eysen, Tamás Máté)



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