The largest online museum initiative in the world right now has garnered not one, but two winning entries in its design competition. SANAA and Snøhetta have created equally notable proposals for Budapest’s New National gallery and Museum.
Each design has a strong concept as its base and there is a difference between the thought processes of the two, yet both are outstanding solutions in their own way.
Snøhetta recognizes and challenges the most basic problem with the beliefs that are held about the working of museums. The reason for the existence of museums must be to engage generations with the culture developed through history. Instead the focus is increasingly upon curating and preserving the artifacts, wherein the viewer is considered a threat to this endeavor. Thus they are failing to have an impact and a relationship with the common public.
The design strives to transform the ‘passive’ nature of a museum into an ‘active’ one. Both the museums – the National Gallery and the Ludwig museum have been brought under one roof, while each maintains its own individual identity. The Project is located in the City Park, and by being accessible at all times and providing vistas of the entire city of Budapest, the roof acts as its extension. The area within the building where the two museums meet will be a large public space. The museums themselves are designed to provide an experience for the viewers as befits the art forms to be on display.
The focus for SANAA has been to actualize a continuously changing space like the City Park, such that it is perceived as a part of the Park itself and not an individual entity. The ground floor is open and the building is characterized with sloping terraces; the resultant building is inviting and approachable. The movement through the building is also part of this experience. One circulation route is of the galleries, and the second is a dance of social spaces and open terraces, enabling each person to create memories unique to them. The roofs are so designed as to enable light to penetrate through the center of the building. The building seeks to not be determined by a defined outline, but through the activities within.
The winning entry will now be determined “based on professional and financial considerations.”
By: Sahiba Gulati