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Author(s): Melinda Benkõ
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay
Published by: Historický ústav SAV, v. v. i.
Keywords: urban design; street block; closed / open duality; urban form and space use; sustainability; Budapest

Summary/Abstract: INTRODUCTION One of the most significant current discussions in urban design is the redesigning and restructuring of urban places to achieve sustainability. There is a large volume of published studies describing specific criteria – that a sustainable city should be compact, dense, diverse and highly integrated (The Sustainable, 2004). In addition, design concepts of sustainable urban form highlight the importance of sustainable transport, mixed land uses, passive solar design and greening, too. This paper approaches this complex question by analyzing Budapest’s traditional urban blocks and their contemporary changes, focusing on the two aforementioned dominant aspects of sustainability in the historic city center: compactness and diversity. Budapest was founded in 1873, through the unification of three historic towns: Buda, Pest and Óbuda. The Hungarian capital became the biggest city on the Danube, the most important industrial, commercial and cultural centre of the region and the gateway of Western Europe to the East. The majority of the housing stock at the city’s core, about 400 blocks, dates back to the late 19th and early 20th century. Generally, they are 3- to 7-storey buildings around inner courtyards, giving rise to the traditional closed urban form. The historic centre was also a construction site for prestigious political buildings (the Parliament) and cultural institutions (museums, opera house and theatres). They stand out as objects, landmarks in the homogeneous urban tissue. At the same time, the former industrial areas expanded between the inner city and the administratively independent suburbs, even occupying the riverbanks. The use of space in this transitional zone was mixed, which resulted in a varied urban fabric. The city’s present form, greater Budapest, was born in 1950, through the addition of 16 townships and villages situated along the outer belt. Following these periods of spectacular development, the quantitative housing construction programmes in the 1960’s and 1970’s took the form of huge housing blocks built on the city’s outskirts. Meanwhile, in the historic urban fabric of the inner-city, neglect and demolition of nationalised residential buildings were general phenomena. After the political and economic transition of 1990, the housing and real estate market opened up, and intensive building activity began with the active participation of foreign investors. Besides urban renewal, uburbanisation continues to absorb urban development resources. Locally and globally, Budapest’s challenges are increasing. METHODS AND RESULTS Contemporary Budapest inherited more than 700 residential urban blocks in its historic city center. The renewal of these blocks, involving housing construction within the existing context while safeguarding its identity, is central to Budapest’s future. Generally, urban form is a composition of characteristics related to land use, transportation system and urban design. However, the b

  • Issue Year: 45/2011
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 186-199
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: English