Architects: Roeleveld Sikkes
Location: Pannonhalma, Hungary
Landscape: Pigment Studio
Structural Design: Földvári Mérnökiroda Kft.
Building Engineering: NOVOTERV Kft.
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Tamás Bujnovszky
The recent opening of the brand new visitors centre at the renowned Pannonhalma Benedictine monastery introduces a contemporary addition to one of Hungary’s most prominent landmarks of cultural heritage. The addition symbolizes the confidence in the future for a cultural legacy in Hungary.
The competition winning design of RS | Roeleveld-Sikkes Architects based in Budapest and The Hague, emphasizes on improving the union between the various buildings of the monastery. The Pannonhalma monastery has been a beacon for culture and crafts for over a thousand years. The monastery grounds of the Benedictine order house the finest examples of religious art, crafts and architecture. It has been inscribed into the Unesco World Heritage List in 1996. Today the monastery is still in use and can be regarded as one of the key touristic features of Hungary, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year.
In contradiction with some monasteries the Benedictine order embraces these touristic possibilities. In 1996 the order acquired its pre-war vineyards, giving them the opportunity to make wine once again. An architecture competition for the new visitors centre was issued in 2006 in order to offer the visitors an experience other than merely the remarkable historic reference. They now offer the possibility to taste the fine wines and locally grown products.
RS | Roeleveld-Sikkes Architects won the competition by proposing a contemporary building in the continuity of a thousand years of change. Instead of merely building on top of the hill, a greater part of the program, especially the car park, is situated completely underground. The centre is integrated into the traffic circulation plan leading visitors straight to the car park. Through a careful system of stairs and ramps, the visitors reach the visible part of the building housing the restaurants, the terrace and auditoria. The underground car park not only ensures an unprecedented view, it factually restores the landscape. The various functions of the visitors centre, two restaurants, a bar and auditoria are flexible in use. In essence this discrete but present centre offers the visitors of Pannonhalma a comfortable environment to enjoy the cultural richness of the grounds and buildings.