New Metro line M4 for Budapest, Hungary by Spora Architects
The new M4 metro line planned in Budapest is to connect South-Buda with the city centre of Pest which is the heart of Budapest. Ten stations are to be constructed in the first step along the 7,34 km-long line. In the last thirty years there hasn’t been such an ambitious development in regards to transport here in Budapest. Now, as time has passed, we are faced with a huge gap in technology. The concept, thinking and previous plans for the M4 were made in the 80’s and 90’s with stations reflecting the way of thinking of the 70’s and 80’s. And yet now we will be opening these stations to passengers living well into the 21st century.
Thus the most challenging aim for us was to rationalise the structures, architecture, technology and space as originally planned while at the same time re-thinking the project according to the 21st century’s spirit. One of the goals of the project will be to encourage people to use public transport. We believe that the architectural quality of the stations can be one of the tools used to get people to do this. The metro must be trendy. Budapest is a city of eclecticism, romanticism, and raditionalism; it is living in the past. The M4 will be a different world, an underground world. It’s important to emphasise that it’s a public space – a public space under the ground.
The Fővám tér station is more than a metro station; it is a complex traffic junction in Budapest, an interchange spot for tramways, buses, metro, ships, cars and pedestrians, which altogether create a unique open public space above and under the ground. The station is a new multilevel city junction, gateway to the historic downtown of Budapest. The section of the underground space is proportional to the cross section of streets in Pest built in the 19th century.
This project is a construction project conceived by the engineers of the 1980’s which will be realised in the 2010's and used in the 21st century. It is outdated in many ways. As an architect on this project, how do you procede? The result of the design process is a piranesian space above the platform (like Piranesi’s carceri serie) which is spectacular. The structure represents the nature of the project on a symbolic level. We can understand this as a horror vacui, structure without content wherein the content is the nothing itself. We simply designed the structure for a pre-determined system intended to expand the line. The large underground space reflects this evolving stage. What we did was “raise the curtain” to show the structure and space of predetermined building technology. We took advantage of embedded potential; we created a public space under the ground which anybody can continue. The structural and social utopia of Yona Friedmann was also a source of inspiration during our process. It’s important that it is seen to be a public space – a public space under the ground. And public activities are welcome in the stations even during the time of the construction. It is the opportunity of a common ground on which people may share and live and travel.
The Szent Gellért tér station and the Fővám tér stations are twin stations. They are composed of a cut-and-cover box and tunnels. The box is supported by levels of reinforced concrete beams; the resulting structure is similar to a net, like a bone or skeletal system. The architectural and structural concept based on random beam grid and the underground bone texture combined with the organically implemented construction system were compatible without compromises with the often volatile and changing conditions.
Szent Gellért tér station is one of the deepest stations of the line; it is situated below the bank of river Danube on the Buda side, the surface area being part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The station is in a very special situation, because of its place in the city and because of the Duna River and the Gellért Hill. Structural design of the station is determined by the vertical alignment of the line. The depth of the platform level is 36 m from the surface. The station is divided into two main structural parts, requiring two different building methods. Below the Mûegyetem (Polytechnic) embankment there is a box structure built in an open pit from the surface. The other part of the station is under an existing building, it was built by NAT method. The box will be supported by three levels of reinforced concrete beams. The design of the box is determined by this visible concrete net-structure. In the main front of the box, which is a concrete wall covered with corten steel, run two elevators with glass walls faced to the inside, in order to connect both visually and physically the parts of the building with the surface.
The other part the tunnels have curved cross section. The walls and the columns will be covered with mosaic tiles artwork reflecting to the Zsolnai ceramic tiles of Gellért hotel, which is nearby the site.