Construction on SANAA's New National Gallery in Budapest Halted

John Hill
3. December 2019
Rendering of SANAA's competition-winning design from 2015 (Image: SANAA / Pelaga)

Gergely Karácsony, the recently elected Green Party mayor in Budapest, has stopped construction of the new museum in the city's 200-year-old City Park, claiming it will have an "enormous impact on its environment."

The New National Gallery, which was decided in a 2015 competition, is just one of a handful of projects that comprise the huge Liget Budapest Project. In turn, SANAA's project isn't the only one impacted by the mayor's actions. Per The Art Newspaper, "On 5 November, Budapest’s General Assembly, which is led by the mayor, backed his proposal to halt elements of the Liget project not yet under way." 

While the €250m New National Gallery and the House of Hungarian Innovation are now stalled, construction of the new House of Hungarian Music, designed by Sou Fujimoto, and a new building for the Museum of Ethnography, designed by Vallet de Martinis DIID Architectes, continues. The New National Gallery was set to open in 2019 when the competition tie-breaker was decided in 2015, but years of design refinement, per The Art Newspaper, pushed the construction start to 2020.

Opponents of the project, including Mayor Karácsony, say the museum will eat into the open space of one of the city's few green spaces, while proponents of the project say the museum and other Liget components have been sited on parking lots and where existing buildings are set to be demolished and will actually increase the area of green space in City Park. 

Started by a right-wing government and stalled by a center-left mayor, the museum is now in the middle of a political tug of war. Although the future of SANAA's project is uncertain, political negotiations are ongoing. If the mayor had his way, the new building would be relocated to a brownfield site elsewhere in Budapest, a move that would certainly require a new design, if not a whole new competition.

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