Gellért Hill Turnaround


Competition on the Renewal of Gellért Hill and its Citadel


The aim of this competition is to renew the cultural identity and function of Gellért Hill and its fortress located in the center of Budapest. Both the hill and the citadel are historical locations that used to represent military and state authority. The hill itself received its name after Saint Gellért, a Hungarian bishop, who was thrusted down the ravines of the hill out of political motivation in the 11th century. The fortress also started out as a symbol of power – it was raised as a military base by the Habsburg dynasty in the 18th century intended to control and intimidate Hungarians. The Statue of Liberty, a more recent political element of the hill,  was built in front of the fortress in 1947 in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary during World War II, and it became an unofficial, hated monument of the Hungarian communist rule.


Thus, the hill and its fortress have a lot of baggage that Budapest hasn’t dealt with yet. The fortress is especially controversial both in cultural and in architectural terms as it was  raised to fulfill military purposes. Today with the original function behind us the building still stands distant and overpowering, needing a refreshed  image and function.


Our proposal aims to solve this contradiction by an act of architectural metamorphosis, the so-called Gellért Hill Turnaround. With the help of the turnaround both the hill and the fortress will gain new functional and urban positions. As a result of the metamorphosis the citadel will change into a new panorama bath, and the shutters used for its construction will create a new public space floating on the Danube. This artificial island, the Gellért Island, directly at the foot of the hill will provide a new opportunity to connect the river and pedestrians and also give a different perspective of the fortress brought down from the hill.


The Gellért Hill Turnaround consists of the following steps:

I. The new bath will be built as a concrete structure within the citadel, where the outer surfaces of the molding form will be the walls of the fortress. The inner surfaces will be constructed as wooden shutters that also follow the tectonics of the citadel.

II. The gap between the original walls and the wood is filled with concrete which creates the pools and new floors of the bath.

III. After the concrete has firmed, the shutters are removed and transported from the top of the hill to the Danube. The wooden part of the molding form is reassembled upside down and is put on water, thereby creating a new artificial island on the river.


site: Gellért Hill, Hungary type: renewal status: competition year: 2016 size: 0,65 km2 team: Dániel Eke + RJZS Architects

Image credits: Dániel Eke + RJZS Architects