architecture : urban : visual culture

Waking up from Sleeping Beauty’s dream: Nyíregyháza’s Rose Garden open-air stage

Recent years of the open-air stage of Nyíregyháza – handled by Móricz Zsigmond Theatre of Nyíregyháza – have certified a successful concept. The theatre loving community of the city could have seen many own and guest performances. After the full-house and successful performances and it has soon become apparent that the theatre professional works can only be continued with the full renovation of the obsolete and outdated open-air stage. The open-air stage of Nyíregyháza has reborn by plans of A’ Stúdió ’90 Kft.

History of the open-air stage 

In Nyíregyháza in the first decades of the 20th century as a demand arose to build an open-air stage. The stage was planned to take over the cultural role of the stone theatre – in summer months off season - which was successfully operated from the 1800’s. One had to wait for it until the 1930’s when a rampart was made in Sóstógyógyfürdő but in this amphitheatric structure no significant performance could be done as the World War II started. During the World War II. and decades of renovation after the war the open-air stage was forgot so the need of its build arose again only in the 50’s. After the decision in 1955 the construction was started based on Zoltán Paulinyi’s plans. Unlike as it was used to the city leaders of this time selected the south end of Benczúr square which square is running through the city centre. After all this was not a good decision. The object finished in 1957 with capacity of 1200 people. Until the 80’s technical devices of the open-air stage were significantly outdated as in the 80’s the stage was almost 30 years old. The reconstruction would required an investment with millions of HUF costs. This as well as several complaints from owners of the adjacent properties due to loud performances has finally sealed the fate of the institution. However the theatre opened in 1984 after a significant renovation it only could have been operated until now with more or less pauses and serious technical compromises due to the acoustic problems. But the last 3 years have certified a successful concept. The institute – given in the hand of Móricz Zsigmond Theatre – again gave successful performances, guest performances to the theatre loving community. It has soon become apparent that the theatre professional works can only be successfully continued with the full renovation of the obsolete and outdated open-air stage which serves the both the changing needs of the viewers, with modern technology complies the special theatrical requirements and it also remedies the acoustic protection of so-called neighbouring properties. Doing it with meeting the highly important city scape, urban-architecture and conservation points of view.


Nyíregyháza Rose Garden open-air stage - architect: Roland Banu, Szabolcs Tenkely - photo: Csaba Csutkai

Nyíregyháza Rose Garden open-air stage - architect: Roland Banu, Szabolcs Tenkely - photo: Csaba Csutkai


Introduction of the area

The open-air stage stands in frequented place of downtown of Nyíregyháza, between one-way roads of Benczúr’s Square’s both sides as a closing element for the south end of two long, parallel walls. Over the years, the boundary walls bordering the property were unfortunately overhauled, losing the former civil appearance. Nowadays only bourgeois houses remind to the former installation and street view. The calm and peaceful century mood has changed to a different stylish and mixed function closed-door installation (social houses, houses, offices, shops, school). These building’s shape characteristics, colour using often collides each other.

Buildings and related green areas of the open-air stage are under heritage protection due to their high importance and architectural values. The building complex is surrounded by a rose garden which basically determines the atmosphere of the whole receiving space. However the outdated „green wall” which borders the auditorium and also the stage hall and serving building for receiving, preparation and performance were unworthy for this „romantic” mood.

In addition of these above mentioned the technically totally outdated theatre technical devices and the lack of the acoustic shielding caused constant problem and challenge for the technical staff.

Nyíregyháza Rose Garden open-air stage - architect: Roland Banu, Szabolcs Tenkely - photo: Csaba Csutkai

Nyíregyháza Rose Garden open-air stage - architect: Roland Banu, Szabolcs Tenkely - photo: Csaba Csutkai


Architectural concept

From the above mentioned it can be perceived that the investment of the property has basically determined along three well-determined technical content. It has became needed to serve the viewers in an expected today’s level, providing theatre professional works which comply all the necessary demands and the protection of the neighbour properties. Doing it with the need to protect the monument of the open-air stage which is under protection and the unique atmosphere. Also there was a need that the monument – which is implemented with taking into consideration of theatrical and operation aspects - can be able to provide the required technical parities with the slightest effect to the city.

There was given a transversal axis which is simmetrically edited and given to the functionally structure of the original building. This axis separates the historical monuments from the theatre area which is equipped with modern devices, doing this separation with the result that viewers are placed between two sceneries. As a main mood element the stage’s original monumental and determinative green area function has come into view. Snagging into the urban environment of the old green facades of the monumental machine hall and auditorium, the strict characteristic of the Benczúr square and as direct neighbour the „Jerevan beer garden’s mess” needed a mess formation to the direction of the square, which mess will be less to hold and appearance to the original garden characteristics of the open-air stage. During the design of theatre technical, scenic equipment, structures and acoustic shielding panels – which equipment provide the operation – it was a main viewpoint to plan mobile design which can be demolished, collapsible and hide. So in order to place into focus the monumental buildings, rose garden and park during, before and after the theatre season is also determined the transparent appearance of the theatre technical devices and structures. Due to these the service building towards the square was adjusted to divided, underlaying layout functions. Its mess formation adjusts to scale changes to the adjacent buildings. We would like to confirm the seasonal, light and airy architectural design with devices referring to the original green facade of the auditorium.


Nyíregyháza Rose Garden open-air stage - architect: Roland Banu, Szabolcs Tenkely - photo: Csaba Csutkai

Nyíregyháza Rose Garden open-air stage - architect: Roland Banu, Szabolcs Tenkely - photo: Csaba Csutkai



Between the service building and machine hall a steel frame structure is running along which is good for receiving the telescopic theatre cover and acoustic structural elements and also to receive the steel wires which are fixed into geometrical system. The plantage which runs up to the wire and rampant with using gardening devices creates a unique atmosphere in the way that during theatre season it provides the cover of the theatre area and during off-season it can clears the closure of the space with its visible, transparent design. With turning around the serving building the steel frame structure creates a clear but in its appearance as an „insular floating” boundary towards the square so it makes a light space wall referring to the „Jereván” beer garden’s block instead of the concreted serving facilities which separated with steel fences.

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