Arts

Budapests green mayor puts breaks on €250m New National Gallery

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Budapests centre-left mayor, Gergely Karácsony, who was elected on a green platform in October Courtesy of the Mayors Office

Plans for Hungarys landmark New National Gallery—conceived as the centrepiece of the rising Liget cultural quarter in Budapests City Park—hang in the balance after the citys new centre-left mayor, Gergely Karácsony, moved to block its construction.

Karácsony, who was elected in October on a green platform, says that he has never been “against the project itself” but he opposes the idea of building on “one of Budapests few and very precious green areas”. He adds that the New National Gallery “is such a monumental building that it would have an enormous impact on its environment”.

On 5 November, Budapests General Assembly, which is led by the mayor, backed his proposal to halt elements of the Liget project not yet under way. At a subsequent meeting between Karácsony and Hungarian government officials, including the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, the government expressed a willingness to listen to the mayors demands. Construction of the New National Gallery has now stalled, with work also suspended on the House of Hungarian Innovation, a successor to Budapests former museum of transport that was expected to cost in excess of €100m.

Billed as Europes biggest ongoing cultural development, at a total cost of around €1bn, the Liget project has already seen the renovation of Budapests Museum of Fine Arts, the opening of a state-of-the-art restoration and storage facility, and the restoration of the 19th-century Olof Palme House. Construction is continuing on the new House of Hungarian Music, designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, and on a new building for the Museum of Ethnography.

Initiated in 2011 by Orbáns right-wing Fidesz government, the project progressed relatively smoothly under the two terms of Karácsonys predecessor, István Tarlós, a period the government describes as a “golden era” for investment in Budapest. Local opponents have, however, repeatedly expressed concerns about the environmental impact on the park.

A rendering of Hungary's New National Gallery, designed by the Japanese architectural firm Sanaa Courtesy of Liget Budapest 2019

Project organisers have defended the high architectural standard of the new buildings. According to László Baán, the driving force behind the Liget project, the plans are in line with the history of City Park (Városliget), which has been home for over a century to cultural and recreational buildings such as the Széchenyi thermal baths. “The new buildings are not being constructed on green areas but are instead replacing parking spaces and long-outdated buildings planned to be demolished,” Baán argues. He says that green space in the park will actually increase from 60% to 65%, a calculation disputed by Karácsony and other opponents.

Construction on the €250m New National GallerRead More – Source

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