Mátra Museum

Zsolt Kurta


Grafit 37 Architectural Office Co. Ltd.

Petőfi u. 37. H-3200 Gyöngyös


(Gyouml;ngyouml;s, Hungary)
2009 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Prize for Conservation - Grand Prize

Renewal of the Maacute;tra Museum in Gyouml;ngyouml;s:
The Orczy Mansion and it's Garden

In our rapidly changing world there is a huge demand for such places that bring us both back to the past and to the future, provide knowledge for us and they can also share all of it with interested visitors. Our goal was to create such a place in the Orczy Garden.

The design offices
The eight-year-long design process of the ensemble has been carried out by the Grafit 37 Architectural Office Co. Ltd. that works with two senior architects and six assistants in a town with 40.000 inhabitants 80 kilometres east of Budapest. The MKFT Architecture is working in the same spot with two architects and as associate has participated several times in projects generally designed by the Grafit 37 Architectural Office.

Project history and objectives
The Orczy Mansion housing the Maacute;tra Museum was built from the beginning of the 18th century in two periods: first in Baroque style, later in 1826 in Classical style.
The building has functioned without a guest welcoming area so that the most important task was to create that.As we submitted our entry in a competition with invited architectural offices in 2001 the idea of the municipalities of our town and Heves County was that a new Natural Scientific Pavilion should have been built first to house the natural scientific exhibition and reduced original storage spaces that would have been moved out of the historical mansion so that the original spatial structure of the mansion could have been restored. But the Pavilion has been built only after the renovation of the mansion, however the original aim has still been realized.  
Situated in the very heart of the town, this Museum Park could be a place to rest and stay here in tranquility. It can also offer an aesthetic experience and become a a unique touristic and museological spectacle in the country, besides it can be an excellent site for scientific education.

Planning and building as a team
The planning process was managed mainly by the three senior architects: Tamaacute;sneacute; Kelemen, Laacute;szloacute; Eperjesi, and Zsolt Kurta, besides there was the strong background activity of the six other assistants of the Grafit 37 office behind us. The total amount of the different partner office members was over 35. There were two general contractors involved in the two phases of the building process.

Project support
The first phase included the mansion, the perimeter stone walls, the new gloriette in the north, and the existing southeastern and southwestern gloriettes. It was co-financed by the European Union in the scope of the Regional Development Operative Program, and with the financial participation of  the Municipality of  Heves County.
The second phase included the new Natural Scientific Pavilion and the renewal of the 2 hectare large former English garden which was in obsolete condition. It was realized in the scope of the central state financial support of  2006, as an investment of the Municipality of  Gyouml;ngyouml;s.

Project philosophy
Like in every good muselogical examples we have considered an important principal to create a neutral background in the guest welcoming courtyard of the mansion which was indeed justified by the unifying of two Baroque style, a Classical style building period with 21st century architecture of the glass roof above the courtyard to a harmonious space. We found the best solution for this intention to create a bd"white space" which coats every different materials and forms with a unified white layer. In addition to that there is the wonderful sky- blue contrast above the roof.
The Natural Scientific Pavilion was placed to a sufficient distance from the mansion in order to avoid the disturbing competition of both architectural styles. However two building elements show a certain similarity: the northern colonnade of the mansion resembles the southern colonnade of the Pavilion, only materials and proportions are different.
By defining the site of the Pavilion was a 19th century drawing helpful that pictures a Neoghotic style glass house situated at the northern perimeter wall. The setting of the new building sticks to that historical fact with it's large glass house.
The solid wooden volume of the Pavilion hides a Life Tree in a circular slab opening. Like every trees it has three main levels: the roots, the earth suface and the leaves in the air. In accordance with that was designed the section of this part of the buiding. The final exhibition layout follows the separation of these three habitats. 

Innovation values that have been awarded
The Jury of Europa Nostra awarded a Grand Prize to our project as it presents an outstanding example of harmonious coexistence of meticulous historical restoration and the incorporation of contemporary architecture. The ensemble has regained the authentic complexity and former beauty of the property while applying high levels of standard and quality.

Introduction Differences from other awarded projects
The simultaneously applied means of old craftsmenship and the use of up-to-date architectural language has resulted an interesting mixture in our project, without being obtrusive to each another.

Tasks to solve
The main question in protecting the historical monument that the mansion represents was the possible covering of the central courtyard. Covered by a light steel structure roof with point fixed panes of glass this solution enabled the multipurpose use of the building.
The covering was also supported by the result of the archeological wall research process, which proved that the former closed courtyard of the mansion with windows inside was originally built with open arcades and corridors in the ground floor and first floor as a U-shaped Baroque style courtyard and was converted to an architecturally not too valuable closed courtyard in the Classical style period.
Unobtrusive mechanical and lighting solutions were applied. E. g. the heating and cooling is provided from an airspace beneath the floor of the central courtyard. The lighting is reflected by invisible mirrors above the old roof.
The rebuilding of the stone walls of the park was important to restore the former climate of the garden. The southern fence has two gates flanked with lion statues, they give accesses into the garden, the southeastern gate is the main public entrance to the ensemble. As an essential part of the garden a lake is also set with a small pavilion on a tiny little island as a well known element from English gardens.

Professional exellence
By the frescoe research of the mansion it became known, that there are Baroque frescoes in three rooms as well as on the ceiling of the southwestern gloriette. The whole restauration was completed in the corner ceremonial hall, in the small cabinet and on the ceiling of the southwestern gloriette.

Imaginations for the next time
In the case of the mansion we would not change our approach to the restauration task. By the Natural Scientific Pavilion our original intention was to plan a bd"anti-building", that means a mass covered with earth that grows out of the park surface. Only the crystal-like glass house would have emerged from that. The cylindrical mass on the first sketches shows the former place of the Life Tree that moved into the wooden cube later on.
It would have been a much more expensive but possibly an interesting building too.


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