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Mozgásjavító Institute

Budapest, Hungary
1 of 13Architect's website

The additions designed by 3h were nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2011. The building is located in the 14th district of Budapest.


The history of the school for children with a disability in Budapest goes back to 1903 when Richard Rothfeld founded the Disabled Children`s Association and Asylum. The institute aimed to implement a complex rehabilitation i.e. treatment, education and vocational training for disabled children and young people. In 1913 the school moved to a building in Mexikói Road designed by Alajos Medgyes and built by donation.

The educational system was built on three principles – to educate, treat and train in the same place, after World War II this system broke up and the institution had to move to the neighbouring Blind People's Institute in the 1950s. This new building, designed by Béla Lajta and built in 1905-1908, is one of the most significant buildings of the Hungarian Art Nouveau.

Despite of an unsuccesful period beginning for the professional and scientific development of the school in the 60s, the school had great results and progress in treatment and training. An opportunity for a general development of the institute finally came at the beginning of the 90s; however, the local government did not take any substantive actions for expansion until 2003-2004.

Design goals and concept

The new building including medical treatment and educational spaces as well as a home for students and a kindergarten had to become a physical link between Lajta’s and Medgyes’ building and also had to replace the staired entrance hall, as it was inaccessible to the disabled people.

Meanwhile residential buildings were built between the two buildings; therefore, it was not possible to have the new block facing Mexikói Road where the main entrance was planned.

The architects – Katalin Csillag, Zsolt Gunther, Anthony J. Gall and their colleagues – chose the simplest functional solution: they designed a long row of pavilions in front of the rear façades of the old buildings. The new building can be accessed from the back-street which flanks the yard of Lajta’s building and leads to Mexikói Road.

The entrance building - placed in the center of the yard - is the prolongation of the main axis of the two-story block behind. The spacious hall - with a glass wall on one side - is perpendicular to the side wing of the old building and runs through the main building comprising classrooms, gyms, entertainment areas, a restaurant and – in the basement – a swimming pool. Then it continues in a long, street-like corridor attached to two-story residential blocks. The axis reaches the side wing of Medgyes’ building in L-shape and will continue towards the kindergarten that is to be built in the next phase of the construction.

Rationality in the design

The rationality in the arrangement of the spaces was not only the client’s expectation, but it came from the economy of the nature of the task and the function. As far as the special spatial needs of the users are concerned, mildness and flexibility are featuring the highly consequent system.

The open-space concept inside is clearly perceptible and it gives the impression of freedom and makes almost the entire building transparent.

Due to its function, the corridor connecting the residential pavilions is more intimate and closed than the school hall, but wide windows provide ample natural light everywhere. The spaces are more clustered here. In the apartments you can find four bedrooms and a spacious common room – used as a living room, kitchen and dining room.

The tight space organization does not lead to a rigid structure keeping aloof from school life and the outside world; it is intimate being strongly attached to its environment. Geometric regularity and irregularity characterize the design and prevail in the functional layout as well. At certain points, the lines of the building and the walls are moving out from their rational systems. This design tool helps to dissolve the extremely stretched and monotonous addition making the overall aesthetic impression mild and sensitive.

Respecting the monuments

The architects used this method to deal with the tough problem of fitting the new building and Lajta’s building together, which enabled them to remain consequent in all aspects. They ignored elements that would have recalled Lajta’s architecture and the solutions that would have decreased the unique character of the new building as a mark of respect.

The new glass façades join Lajta’s wing with a slight angle, which symbolizes a kind of embracing gesture towards the old building. This detail shows a mild and tight design process that characterizes the whole building's design. The modern glass walls and the old, handicraft-type brick façade do not clash, and the new building can preserve its own identity.

The building takes all aspects of interaction between human and nature into consideration. Apart from the primary goal – a close connection between space, equipment, technical solutions and the needs of the children with disability and their attendants –, the basic aspects included the experience of being present in space and the relationship with the architectural heritage.