The renovation and expansion of the Hungarian National Archives are delayed

Hungarian version of the article: Csúszik a Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár felújítása és bővítése

October 15, 2022 at 5:00 PM

The public procurement call for the construction of the headquarters of the Hungarian National Archives has been withdrawn, so it is not yet known when the renovation of the Bécsi Kapu Square building, the appropriate expansion of Samu Pecz's original plans and the rebuilding of its iconic tower, which was demolished after the war, can begin.

Pestbuda already reported that for the Hungarian National Archives, located at 2-4 Bécsi Kapu Square, a call for tenders was issued in June 2022 for the renovation and expansion of the building. However, in the EU public procurement notice published on 10 October, it can be read that the call for general construction of the archive building is being withdrawn.

Postcard of the building of the Hungarian National Archives from the 1930s (Photo: FSZEK Budapest Collection)

The iconic building of the Archives would have been renovated based on more than hundred-year-old plans within the framework of the National Haussmann Program, under the guidance of the Castle Headquarters. They would have built the building wing on the west side of the Archives, as well as the new building, which were included in the original plans of Samu Pecz, but were never realised.

In the north-western wing of the building planned to be newly built on the vacant lot, a visitor centre would have been created, with community spaces, where exhibitions, conferences and workshops would have been held. The so-called director's accommodation building and its gate would have been built on the west side of the building, which is organically connected to the Archives building in their external appearance and style, but so far only existed in plans.

To the right, a detail of the facade of the Archives facing Bécsi Kapu Square, to the left, from Nándor Street, the director's building, which would have been built on the site of the demolished tram load distributor according to the original plans of Samu Pecz (Source: Castle Headquarters)

The 75-metre-high iconic tower, the symbol of the building, which was blown up in 1945 after World War II, would have been rebuilt, in which an observation deck would have been created as part of the visitor centre.  The investment would have included the complete facade and roof reconstruction, the restoration of wall decorations, the complete mechanical modernisation and renovation of the now dilapidated Bécsi Kapu Square main building, the renovation of the electrical network and the waterproofing of the building.

Samu Pecz's original blueprint with the tower and the wing that was eventually not realised

In addition, the entire building would have been functionally rethought, the entire internal infrastructure would have been modernised following the new ideas, and the interior architectural restoration would have been carried out. New green surfaces, a garden and a terrace would also have been created next to the new building parts. According to the public procurement call, the development would have affected 16,288 square metres of the existing building.

In response to our newspaper's inquiry, the Castle Headquarters stated: "In the near future, we will renew the Hungarian National Archives, but due to the economic changes experienced worldwide, the work will be rescheduled for a later date."

The Hungarian National Archives was established nearly three hundred years ago, its building on Bécsi Kapu Square was built between 1912 and 1923. Its designer, Samu Pecz, died a year before the handover, in 1922, exactly 100 years ago.

Cover photo: The Archives with the rebuilt tower, with the Bécsi Gate to the left on a 2020 design render (Source: National Hauszmann Program)


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