architecture : urban : visual culture

Where past, present and future meets – Library and mediatheque Hódmezővásárhely

The goal of the concept from DAW Architects is to create a building, which has the appearance that harmonizes with the spiritual and architectural heritage of the city from different periods. They based their design on the buildings appearing on the site in the past and at present, while being mindful to the presence of the nearby Old Church.

Architectural concept

The city of Hódmezővásárhely has a rich architectural and artistic heritage. Typical it has a high-density urban structure despite the fact that its location in the lowlands of the Alföld would enable lower density and intensity. It shows that our ancestors already recognized that the centre of this city could only function optimally, in case a relatively dense city grid is created. This way it strengthens the atmosphere in great contrast to the seemingly endless plains around it.

Keeping that in mind, our goal was also to create a building, which fulfils the requirements of the present, and communicates with the built environment around it in a specific contemporary architectural language, thus further strengthening the architectural character of the city.

Library and mediatheque - architect: DAW Architects

Positioning and massing

When considering the ideal position for the building, the key position of Kossuth square served as a good basis. Up until the 1960s, there were buildings on the corner of Szőnyi and Anrássy streets and the brick wall of the Old Church also acted as fencing between the churchyard and the square.
The church and its surroundings were rebuilt many times during the centuries, in its current state the so called „Sarok-ház” (Corner-house) disrespectfully dominates the church. We projected the built volumes from 1789 and 1961 on each other and decided to shorten the block that stands on the corner these days. By doing so, we managed to give some breathing space to the church and to unify the streetscape at Adrássy street.

Given that, the deconstructed section of church-garden wall became unnecessary over time, its reconstruction was not intended. The new brick wall, which is the integral part of the planned building was designed to enhance the church, and give better visibility to it. The brick walls of the Old Church and the new library represent continuity and respect towards the historic heritage.

Library and mediatheque - architect: DAW Architects

Besides basing the massing of the new building on the reduced length of the truncated form of the current building, a height reduction towards the church was also necessary. By increasing the angle of the pitched roof, we not only managed to lower the height of the eaves, but also gave the building a strong architectural character. We also adjusted the axis difference of the current building and the church and by breaking the block perpendicular to the Andrássy Street.

In the area surrounded by the new base wall of the library, further parts of the building connect to the block at the back, where the previous periods also had buildings standing there. The shaping of these differs from the rear because of functional differences, and given our design rules and planning distances, they are positioned within the area defined by us.

In line with the main functional parts, the resulting new building components are connected, in a way that the presence of the building is reduced towards the square. The newly designed base wall has an opening based on the position of the former northern gate towards the side entrance of the church.

Library and mediatheque - architect: DAW Architects

Facade design, material use

As discussed the design takes the historical surroundings and the location of the Old Church into consideration. The fence wall surrounding the church was extended as a fencing motif to the library as well, behind which the silhouette of the former buildings at the site are resembled by the massing of the new library. In alignment with the functional hierarchy the facade facing Kossuth square is divided into smaller sections and ends in two gable ends with sharp edges to counter the huge building effect. On the facade facing the church and the one that faces Andrássy Street, these come together to form a single monolitic structure.

The base wall, which goes around the building, is an accentuated element on all facades. The section starting from the church is made of white bricks, in areas - where necessary (eg. around the lecture rooms) - is built perforated to let light through. We use this locally typical material to strengthen the connection to the church wall. On other sections monolitic reinforced concrete and glass surfaces alternate.

The white coloured concrete footing wall at the rear of the building involving less open areas with staff entrances create a time-proof border of the house, while the full height glass portals are situated at the front of the building. The features of the facades are outlined by pre-manufactured white concrete frames as used on the footings. The frames are filled with vertical ribbing in a curtain-wall system. The ribs are made of glazed bricks based on the local ceramic tradition. Within the wall sections between the ribs, perforated brick surfaces and glass alternate, allowing a varying visibility from the outside. The roof of the building is made of coal-grey sheathing, textured by batten infills. The geometric articulation is accentuated by the gutter hidden inside the concrete cornice.

Library and mediatheque - architect: DAW Architects

Space planning

The main functions of the building are located on three different floors. On the ground floor the public, touristic and exhibition spaces can be found, on the higher levels the libraries and more intimate areas of the library are situated, such as the reading areas. The functional units of the library including the main hall, atrium and the stairway are focused around the entrance. The areas available to the public are housed in the two adjacent blocks, while the staff research offices and other facilities are in the third one.

Building structures

The walls and columns of the basement level and the upper levels are made of reinforced concrete. Because of the requirements of high weight bearing capacity, the slabs are also made of reinforced concrete. In addition to the load-bearing structures, glass, brick and white coloured concrete appear on the facades. The monolithic design of the roof enables the unique design, which receives metal sheathing, in alignment with the appearance of the roof on the neighbouring church. The detached library building is connected to the neighbouring parking garage at basement level.


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