Despite adverse weather conditions, two delayed flights and one temporarily lost passport, the team arrived in Budapest and were greeted by some of our friends from the Ryder Alliance – Studio In-Ex – at our hotel. After a hearty Hungarian breakfast, we crossed the Erzsebet Bridge to tackle Gellert Hill. From the top we enjoyed the view across the city with a cup of mulled wine to warm us up in the sub zero temperatures.
A walk down the river took us to the Palace of Arts, a cultural centre of three institutions in one building, to celebrate 100 years of Hungarian cultural history. The building’s structure and aesthetic are driven by its inner function to facilitate productions of varying scales and genres to the highest standard. Suspended within the generous circulation spaces, the auditorium is encased by a beautifully sculpted wooden form. The rich material palette split the team, with some in favour of the red carpets and deep blue ceilings while others preferred the warm natural tones of the stone and timber finishes.
Heading back towards the city, we visited Balna, nicknamed the Whale, a contemporary glass and steel structure forms a smooth sweep through the centre of two existing brick warehouse buildings. This union of old and new provides a landmark building to house retail, restaurant and bar spaces. The material palette and form, as well as function, echoes the adjacent Great Market, where we sampled traditional Hungarian food - some of us ordering portions with eyes bigger than our bellies. This union of old and new provides a landmark building to house retail, restaurant and bar spaces.
We had the pleasure of joining Studio IN-Ex, a member of in the Ryder Alliance, office and were greeted with a warm Hungarian welcome. We enjoyed having a swift tour around the office followed by getting to know our Hungarian colleagues over a few flaming espresso shots and some funky moves (from Steve Ayling) on the dance floor. We ended the night in a cosy bar, so cosy that some of the team decided to take a nap.
The first stop the following day was St Stephens Basilica, a combination of neo classical and neo renaissance styles with its lavish red marble and intricate gilded interior decoration. The dome’s height is the same as the Parliament building, representing a balance between religion and state.
Next, we visited the Central European University by O’Donnell + Tuomey, a library and learning cafe for citizens and students which implements the integration of the campus with the urban realm. We were impressed with the seamless incorporation of five existing buildings consisting of small tunnel spaces and large open areas reflecting the courtyards and passageways of the city.
A long walk out of the city lead us to Hero’s Square, surrounded by museums, the landmark thermal spas and Vajdahunyad Castle. We had lunch in Memorial Park with a beer to fuel us for the walk back where we enjoyed a traditional chimney cake before continuing our tour, strolling down the Danube River past The Hungarian Parliament building and the touching monument, Shoes On The Danube, in memory of the victims shot into the Danube River by arrow cross militiamen.
Further along the river we took in the views of the Buda Castle and decided our feet couldn’t take any more walking. We concluded the days tour with a snowball fight instigated by Al Houghton (our resident Aussie) before heading to the pub.
We were accompanied by a few of the In-Ex team for a lovely steak dinner, where we concluded our trip and discussed the antics from the previous evening. After plenty of red wine, we decided to sample the nightlife and take advantage of the £1 beers while we could. After landing back on British soil, we all agreed we had thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Budapest, discovering beautiful architecture, historical culture and very cheap pints.
Thank you to Ryder for the opportunity.