PROCLAMATION TO ARCHITECTS
on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Budapest
As a group of architects in Budapest, “Huszonkettesek”, we are addressing you and the world’s appreciative public. We feel that we have run out of tools, that we have no other option left to stop the government’s havoc.
The current Hungarian government wants to make fatal changes to the ICOMOS-protected monuments, protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, of our city at three crucial points. What is common to all three cases is that the decision-makers did not seek any real prior professional and social consultation:
1. Undoing the restoration of the Buda Castle carried out after World War II is underway, together with the destruction of its important post-war buildings through transferring the plots to be owned and managed by pro-government actors. They want to transform the district from a residential and cultural zone into a government district, without taking into account the requirements of the 21st century. The construction works will make it impossible for the Castle to ever become a true cultural-community space, and the demolition of buildings that could be rebuilt causes unnecessary pollution.
2. The “sister project” of the Castle’s rebuilding is the building development of Városliget (City Park), partly to accommodate public institutions such as the National Gallery and the Museum of Ethnography, which have been moved out of the Castle and Kossuth tér, and to be thoroughly filled with entertainment functions. Such an increase in the park’s built-up area will destroy one of Europe’s first planned public parks.
3. The third case – the erection of a 140-metre-high tower block in the foothills of the Buda Hills – is linked to the first two by the fact that the construction, which will change the World Heritage panorama to no advantage, has been carried out in the same authoritarian manner, without taking anyone’s opinion into account, as the first two.
Under the pretext of speeding up decision-making, the government has taken those tools out of the hands of the profession with which they could have hampered their plans, which for them are a demonstration of power and thus their political survival. Their methods,
• the dismantling of the old heritage authority, and the circumvention of the advisory body put in place as its replacement,
• the urban planning consultation procedure made circumventable,
• using appointed confidants instead of open design contests,
• the introduction of the instrument “investments of major importance for the national economy”, which allows the disregard of all architectural rules and conventions
all contribute to the destruction of the architectural heritage of our city.
We know that these issues are seemingly the internal affairs of the voters of our country and the advocates of our profession, but we are appealing to the international forum, because our country is a member of the European Union, the destruction of its built heritage will be a detriment to the whole continent, for which, in our opinion, all its citizens and its architectural creators and decision-makers are equally responsible.
Please help us to stop this profiteering legislative violence that is causing so much harm.
on behalf of the architects’ group, Huszonkettesek:
Szabóné Fischer Zsuzsanna
Szabó Mihály Tibor