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Kopaszi Dam

Budapest, Hungary
1 of 8Zsolt Batár (Wikipedia)

The area around the former river harbour lies in the southern part of Buda. The territory was abandoned and heavily polluted industrial site, partially used for personal holiday purposes in the last decades of the Communist regime and in the ‘90s.

In 2005 a competition was organized for the revitalization of the Lágymányos Bay area. The task was to design beside the approach to the Lágymányos Bridge a large-scale thermal baths and aquatic centre at the head of the harbour, beside the approach to the Lágymányos Bridge.

The T2a competition entry went beyond the competition brief and included a development proposal for the dam that lies between the river and the harbour with small pavilions and a public recreational, sport and leisure area for the people.

Before the current owner (property developer Öböl XI. Ltd.) acquired the site, the narrow dam was dotted with a variety of modest wooden barracks in sad condition which were home to the water police, a number of small restaurants. Now the water police has its new home designed by [[László Váncza]].

The new pavilions are erected on exactly the same spot as these old structures and a timber building typology characteristic of the waterfront is employed. The architects were playing with shapes and materials, just as during the design process: they identified the buildings with names such as ‘the one with the sweater’ or ‘with the parka’ etc.

So the steel frames were dressed up with light-weighted wall structures and timber facades. With their simple shape and detailing, these unpretentious little buildings radiate a certain timelessness and lightness.

The outdoor area has been also carefully landscaped and treated always in strong connection with the buildings. The environmental rehabilitation of the bay is also finished: the water is not anymore a polluted, but a living natural area.

The area as a whole has the potential to be a resounding success. The location is particularly outstanding in that it offers water views on two sides of the dam and natural access to the Danube which is a unique opportunity for the habitants of the City.

The revitalization of the Kopaszi Dam, Budapest has been nominated for The Mies van der Rohe prize 2009.