Balatonfüred Modern Art Center

There are houses whose stories are born under extraordinary constellations, so to speak, in favorable celestial alignments. This story is one of them. Our friends, Professor András Szöllősi and visual artist Judit Nemes, after their outstanding professional career and art collecting activities in Paris spanning several decades, decided to return to Hungary. They wanted to present their fantastic contemporary art collection to the public and were looking for a partner who could provide a suitable home for it and ensure proper functioning. This is how they arrived in Balatonfüred, where they found the corresponding hospitality in the 2023 European Capital of Culture award-winning city and it’s mayor.

To achieve their goals, the city offered two significant villa-scale public buildings, the City Museum and the House of Wines (Blaha Lujza Street 3 and 5). Both parties supported our involvement as designers from the beginning, which András and his friends were eagerly anticipating. Creating a new museum from these two buildings posed a straightforward yet challenging task at this sensitive point in Balatonfüred. After reviewing several options, the final concept emerged, which focused on the maximal preservation and renovation of the two 19th-century villas, while connecting them with contemporary elements.

Szöllősi and his colleagues envisioned the function as a vibrant and lively place filled with life for both professionals in the field and the general public. It would serve as an optimal venue for workshops, gatherings, and large-scale exhibitions. This required the consideration of the two buildings’ shared operation requirements and the reassessment of the floor plans, the creation of a new internal staircase. On the lower level, the two buildings are connected by a freely shaped circulation and exhibition space with curved glass sections. Aside from their curved and high-insulating properties, the glass walls also serve as load-bearing elements to achieve maximum transparency. As we arrive here, we suddenly cross through the sunny garden and experience the freedom offered by the opportunities of contemporary architecture, which also responds well to contemporary artistic creations.

Technically, on the lower levels, the walls and floor insulation had to be redone, and a significant portion of the high-quality wooden window frames needed to be reproduced, while incorporating new mechanical and electrical systems. However, we aimed to proceed with a conservative approach, preserving the existing structures and solutions wherever possible (e.g., incorporating the existing elevator into the new operation).

We believe that the end result has been successful and fruitful for all participants, but our hope is that the residents and guests of Balatonfüred benefit the most from the new Modern Art Museum.