Entering an architectural competition is always a worthwhile experience. It’s a chance to push ourselves and to explore possibilities which – even if they don’t become a reality – take us in new directions.

 When a competition takes us on a journey into the history of another country, it’s even more of a learning experience. Kossuth Square is home to the Hungarian Parliament and sits at the heart of Budapest. It’s a place of national importance, and emotions about the square run deep. It’s where the crushed 1956 uprising took place and remains symbolic of the country’s troubled past. But a 1970s office block facing the Parliament jarred, both with the other buildings and with the spirit of the square. How, then, should this communist relic be transformed? The Office of the Hungarian Parliament launched a creative design competition asking for solutions.

 We took our cue from the adjoining façades, with a design that responds to the neighbouring historic façades. It would continue the rhythms of the square and the imposing coherence of the other frontages. But our design was more than skin deep. The square is a busy public space, and we wanted to blur its boundaries and welcome people beyond the building’s walls. So a floating penthouse structure on the rooftop would be a visitors’ centre open to all. And we would extend the public realm down below with a welcoming courtyard and garden in memory of the 1956 uprising – a place to sit, to pause and to reflect.

CGIs by NJY Studio