Budapest Nyugati railways station is the most valuable development in Budapest’s inner city area. It is one of Hungary’s most significant transport intersections and railway monuments. The planning of the railway station was intricate and required a holistic approach to manage all the aspects of transport planning, infrastructure, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban development.

Budapest's Nyugati Railway Station With Long-Span Roof Structure to be designed by Grimshaw  - Sheet1
Nyugati Railway Station_©Grimshaw

Budapest Nyugati railway station has exceeded its capacity based on present and future needs. It is common practice to back out trains after unloading to turn them around. This is time-consuming and has consequently maximized the capacity of the Nyugati terminal.

Competition

In October 2021, Budapest Development Agency set up an international architectural design competition to upgrade the Budapest Nyugati railway station and its immediate surrounding.

The assignment required a new underground station with a surface-level platform above it, as well as canopies. The existing monumental hall is to be converted into an open public space. The provision of functional and auxiliary spaces was also articulated. The challenge also outlined the importance of coordinating historical and contemporary architectural values. The principles of the competition were to; increase the capacity of the station, preserve the Eiffel Hall, and connect the station to the city.

After the first round of the competition, 12 internationally recognized teams were shortlisted. They included Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster + Partners, Kengo Kuma Associates, and Grimshaw. Grimshaw won the competition to redesign Budapest’s Nyugati railway station alongside Nautes Architects, WSP, Vogt and Turner, and Townsend. The winning design was selected anonymously. The award was accepted at a ceremony in Budapest on 26 March 2022 by Neill McClements, a partner at Grimshaw.

Design

The winning design created a series of non-motorized streets, walkways, squares, and a public park that draws the public to this new space; restoring the station’s local and international significance as one of the most historic and lively cities in Europe.

Budapest's Nyugati Railway Station With Long-Span Roof Structure to be designed by Grimshaw  - Sheet2
Nyugati Railway Station_©Grimshaw

At the heart of the concept is the preservation and celebration of the Eiffel Hall which is integrated with the new underground station and the landscape. The 14,000m2 building is to be repositioned as a public hall for pedestrians. It incorporates cafes, bookshops, and a food hall, on the ground level and has escalators that take passengers to the below-ground tracks. The restoration of the hall also includes new entrance porticos on both east and west flank elevations.

The Eiffel Hall and the new station arcade have circulation and openings between the levels to bring in natural light deep into the underground spaces while maintaining visual connections to the Hall and Linear park, thereby enhancing and elevating the intuitive wayfinding for interchanging passengers.

The Motor Hall is repurposed as a cultural and leisure facility. The west of the linear park, which is the primary arrival point to Nyugati railway station, is revitalized into a pedestrian-friendly square. This pushes cars to the peripheries of the site ensuring micromobility across the station.

To link the two structures, the volume creates a human-scale space on the site and forms a new pedestrian walkway, the Eiffel Passage, connecting passengers across the station. The design creates a train station campus and human-oriented spaces with a long-span roof structure.

Budapest's Nyugati Railway Station With Long-Span Roof Structure to be designed by Grimshaw  - Sheet3
Nyugati Railway Station_©Grimshaw

North-east of the Eiffel Hall is the station arcade that celebrates railway engineering with a long-span roof structure that soars above the surface level station. This structure creates a new entrance to the station on Podmaniczky Utca and the new Linear Park radiates the internal space with natural light. The design also adopts the use of natural materials to further connect the station to the city while providing a vibrant space for passengers.

In the south, the spaces blur the boundaries between the city and the station. In addition, the 3.5-hectare linear park along Podmanicki Street is located next to the new station site and contains local uses including a football field and a dog park.

Budapest's Nyugati Railway Station With Long-Span Roof Structure to be designed by Grimshaw  - Sheet4
Nyugati Railway Station_©Grimshaw

The master plan introduces new pedestrian routes across the site to reinstate the connection which has been severed by the railway corridor since the late 19th century. The routes connect people, through the public spaces, to the spaces and activities in and around the site, including the new residential area on Podmaniczkv Utca and the proposed conference and retail destination.

Grimshaw maintains that their approach is to protect and preserve the heritage of Nyugati station as an aesthetic public space. They aim for adaptive reuse and humanizing the user experience. The whole concept is woven together by the concept of the urban realm and landscape.

The creation of transparent and permeable spaces on a human scale, provides complex connections through logical lines. The construction is expected to start in 2025.

The new project will attract passengers and the public to the new city district, thereby restoring its local and international significance, located in one of the busiest and most historic cities in Europe.

Budapest's Nyugati Railway Station With Long-Span Roof Structure to be designed by Grimshaw  - Sheet5
Nyugati Railway Station_©Grimshaw

References:

  1. “Renewal of Nyugati Railway Station and Its Surroundings.” Nyugatidesigncompetition.com, nyugatidesigncompetition.com/. 
  2. “StackPath.” Grimshaw.global, 28 Mar. 2022, grimshaw.global/news/articles/grimshaw-wins-budapest-nyugati-railway-station-design-competition/.
  3. “Grimshaw Will Design Budapest’s Nyugati Railway Station with a Long-Span Roof Structure.” User’s Blog, 5 June 2022, windowcurtainsblinds.com/grimshaw-will-design-budapests-nyugati-railway-station-with-a-long-span-roof-structure/. 
  4. “Grimshaw to Design Budapest’s Nyugati Railway Station with Long-Span Roof Structure.” World Architecture Community, worldarchitecture.org/article-links/enzvg/grimshaw-to-design-budapest-s-nyugati-railway-station-with-long-span-roof-structure.html. 
Author

Joan is a landscape architect from Nairobi and a member of Architectural Association of Kenya(AAK). She is interested in architecture journalism and feels the need for proper documentation of landscape architecture works for posterity and ease of accessibility of information. She's also interested in designing climate sensitive spaces for people.

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