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Development of New Hungarian Transport Museum continues

The Hungarian Government has decided to continue the design process of the new Transport Museum on the site of the former Northern Railway Depot. During the past few months the coronavirus pandemic cast doubt on the continuation of the project, thus the decision is a significant milestone for the Museum, reinforcing the commitment of the Government to the  development of Budapest, to the creation of the new Transport Museum and the rehabilitation of rust-belts in the capital. The new Transport Museum will be constructed on a historic, currently unused railway site in a brownfield area. It is expected to be the most visited family attraction of Budapest, also playing a decisive role in ramping up quality tourism to the city. A significant part of the planning will take place in Hungary, so the investment will also help boost the economy after the pandemic. Our goal is to complete the plans necessary for starting the construction as soon as possible.

Diller Scofidio+Renfro, the world famous New York-based architecture firm and its Hungarian partner M-Teampannon  selected on an international architectural competition to design the new Transport Museum. The work immediately started after the results, and now with the Government’s decision all design phases necessary for starting the construction will commence. The scope includes the Museum’s transport connections and the design of the permanent exhibition as well.

“We can now take a giant step forward in the creation of the new Transport Museum, as we have received support to perform all the planning, design and preparatory work necessary for setting up the new museum. Following the preparations of the last two years as well as the months of uncertainty caused by the pandemic, this new Government decision provides us the possibility to continue our work, the planning and design of the new museum and its exhibitions. Our work is based on the vast amount of professional and architectural material accumulated during the last months. This investment is not merely the construction of a museum, but can also be considered as a full-scale urban development project, anticipating a new green park, pedestrian connections, public transport developments, the result of which will be a new cultural centre taking shape in a vast brown-field area in Kőbánya, adjoining the magnificent atelier building already constructed for the Hungarian Opera. The design scope will include much more than the museum building, extending to the surrounding park, the open air and permanent exhibitions, the railway station, the  highway connections, a new terminal for heritage trams as well as the refurbishment of the neighbouring small buildings.” – declared Dávid Vitézy, director general of the museum.

“The project aims to preserve the historic structures while reviving them for community use. The site’s vast footprint, unique spatial organization and impressive industrial monuments all present a unique opportunity to have a great impact on the city. Our design aims to showcase the beauty of this historic site with modern means and contemporary architectural concepts.”- said Charles Renfro, partner of Diller Scofidio+Renfro.

What is the Northern Railway Depot, and what is happening there?

The Northern Railway Depot, the future home of the New Transport Museum was the most significant railway vehicle repair base of the country, operating between 1867 and 2009.  considering its outstanding, 150-year industrial heritage, the vacant former plant was chosen by the Government in December 2017 for  the purposes of the New Transport Museum. Following that decision, the museum will be constructed with the reconstruction and expansion of the Diesel Hall, the former engine repair shop of the Hungarian Railways.

As a result of the new decision, full-scale general planning can start on the surrounding park, the transport connections and the new permanent and open-air exhibitions. The project will bring together state-of-the-art architectural design, outstanding industrial heritage and innovative brown-field investment.

Who are the architects?

One of the most well-known work of the New York-based office Diller Scofidio+Renfro is the High Line, a public park developed with refurbishing of an abandoned elevated railway line in Manhattan. This became a starting point of rehabilitating the entire neighbourhood and has become known worldwide as a model of brownfield refurbishment. The office is also famous for several museum projects including The Broad, a museum of contemporary art in Los Angeles, the extension of the New York Museum of Modern Art, or the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art.

What will the new Transport Museum be like?

The new museum with a permanent exhibition twice the size of the former one, a full scale rehabilitation of a brown-field area including a new connection to the People’s Park with new community spaces will become the catalyst for the revival of the whole district. The area will house all the functions of the museum, so beside the new permanent, temporary and outdoor exhibitions, research and conference facilities there will also be storerooms for several thousand objects partly open to the public and a quarter-of-a-million-volume library of transport and technology with archives of Hungarian scientists as well as the documents of factories. The museum will establish new restoration workshops and a national competence centre as a background base for the renovation and stock-preservation of technical and transport objects and vehicles.  The project is also considered a priority for tourism development in the present situation, since with its construction a new internationally attractive and family friendly destination will be established, contributing to the further development of  Budapest. 

The approximately seventy thousand-piece collection of the museum includes unique treasures such as one of the fastest steam locomotives of Europe, the famous electric locomotive constructed by Kandó, one of the first trams of Budapest, original model boats of the Hungarian navy in Fiume, old Ford T-models, the first cars constructed by János Csonka, inheritance of Hungarian scientists and constructors and the inheritance and important vehicles of the Ikarus bus production factory. Altogether about 3000 artifacts will be included in the exhibition, and visitors will have the opportunity to look at 619 vehicles in the new museum complex. 

With this project, one of the oldest transport museums in Europe will find a permanent home in this area, also implementing a complex, large scale development with a new transport junction and a community space, creating a new city centre through revitalizing a formerly neglected area. The investment is one of the biggest brownfield developments in Europe.