CET Multifunctional complex - Budapest

The Budapest whale

Two nineteenth century granaries built on the banks of the river Danube encounter the visionary architecture of Kas Oosterhuis
Santino Limonta
Majolika Kft
Année de réalisation

Although the new Bálna multifunctional centre in Budapest was due to be opened in 2010, a dispute between the parties brought the work to a standstill. Following a difficult process of conciliation, the structure – until then known as CET, the acronym for Central European Time, and subsequently renamed Bálna (whale) due to its shape – was finally opened in November 2013. The « whale » reclines placidly on the retaining walls on the Pest side of the Danube, between the Petöfi bridge and the Szabadság bridge near the Közraktárak, the historic granaries. Four such granaries were built between 1874 and 1881 to store the large quantities of grain that were produced in Hungary and transported here by boat, but one was demolished after suffering severe bomb damage during the Second World War. The idea that arose every so often of remodelling the three remaining granaries finally came to fruition early this century when the task of studying a solution was assigned to Kas Oosterhuis, one of the best-known representatives of so-called Non-standard Architecture. But there was one condition: at least 60% of the original volume was to be retained. In his project, the Dutch architect chose to reuse only the two parallel buildings on the city centre side (while the third, reduced in size, remained isolated to the south) after demolishing 20 metres at one end to improve access. He also wanted the architecture of the new construction to symbolically represent the flow of the river Danube. The result is an iconic cetacean-shaped glass, steel and aluminium building 160 metres in length. To the north, in a combination of « fin de siècle » architecture and visionary design, it penetrates the space between the two remodelled granaries, embracing, uniting and protecting them, then emerges and expands to reach its maximum size (the head) to the south. The arched roof is made from triangular panels (the geometric shape that allows for the maximum flexibility in forming curves) mounted on an impressive tubular steel structure. This alternation of transparency and shading enables the interiors to enjoy abundant sunlight without overheating. Each roof element has a unique shape and size, identity and precise position, and each was manufactured digitally by a numerically controlled machine based on data received directly from the design software. This approach is typical of Kas Oosterhuis’s non-standard architecture, which in complex projects like this allows for mass customisation. The Bálna extends over five levels and has a gross floor space of 27,000 square metres. The two underground floors, with their total space of 7,500 square metres, are used for car parking. The three above-ground floors accommodate boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, restaurants, cafes and a 1,500 square metre space for event hosting. It is also home to the 760 square metre New Budapest Gallery, which organises exhibitions by contemporary artists. Everywhere the interior design displays a combination of past and future. The technological elements made of steel, aluminium and glass rub shoulders with coloured concrete and mirror-polished cement, as well as floor coverings made of wood, stone and burnt yellow bricks typical of late nineteenth century architecture. The large porcelain panels from the TriBeCa collection, Beton colour, by NovaBell integrate perfectly into this context. A total of 1,500 square metres were installed on the floors in communal areas, access spaces and corridors.

NovaBell, Tribeca
porcelain stoneware
35 x 70, 34,5x69,5, 59,5 x 59,5 con spessore 20mm, 60 x 60, 75 x 75, 25x75
muffin, titanio, beton, asfalto
Caractéristiques techniques
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): GLA-GHA
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
Certifications et prix
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