This volcano museum in western Hungary features walls of dark concrete and Corten steel designed by Budapest studio Foldes Architects to reference the colours of volcanic rock and lava (+ slideshow).
Located on a flat plain between the city of Celldomolk and a former volcano, the Kemenes Volcanopark Visitor Centre tells the history of the surrounding region, which five million years ago was home to many volcanoes.
Foldes Architects won a competition to design the museum, using materials and forms that subtly reference the shapes and colours of volcanoes.
"Instead of the straight translation of the brief, such as creating a volcano-shaped museum building, we wanted to capture the true substance of the location," said architect Laszlo Foldes.
"The raw materials, the homogeneous grey of the concrete, the lava-inspired colour of the Corten steel and the flue-like arrangement of the space deliver the spirit and essence of a volcano," he added.
Corten steel boxes puncture the rectilinear volume of the five-storey building, forming self-contained screening rooms and exhibition spaces that project out towards the landscape.
The entrance leads into a full-height atrium. A small skylight five storeys above lets in a beam of light and is intended to recreate the feeling of being inside a volcano.
Concrete walls are left exposed inside the building, while steel staircases ascend to exhibition spaces on all four upper floors.
Photography is by Tamas Bujnovszky.
Here's some more information from Foldes Architects:
Volcano Visitor Centre opened in Hungary, designed by Foldes Architects
Though Hungary, located in Central Eastern Europe, is not rich in active volcanos, a large expanse of the country used to be volcanic some 5 million years ago. However, this does help ensure good quality soil for high level wine production, one of Hungary's largest export products.
The iconic Kemenes Volcanopark Visitor Centre lays 200 km west of the capital Budapest, and has been realised following a national architectural contest announced in 2009 by the Celldomolk City Council, when Foldes Architects celebrated their winning entry from the competing 44 projects. The chosen plot for the centre highlighted a flat area between the city of Celldomolk and the 5 million year old Sag Hill, a former volcano.
"Instead of the straight translation of the brief, such as creating a volcano-shaped museum building, we wanted to capture the true substance of the location. According to our concept, the raw materials, the homogeneous grey of the concrete, the lava-inspired colour of the Corten steel, and the flue-like arrangement of the space, deliver the spirit and essence of a volcano." - Laszlo Foldes, chief designer of Foldes Architects.
Upon entering the vast interior of the building, the visitor meets two engaging attractions. At first sight the vertically open space captures the eye. Five floors above, a small window lets in a beam of light offering the 'eruption' point on the flat roof. On the opposite side, the industrial materials of the facade appear consistent with the interior: naked concrete walls, dark grey resin flooring, steel staircase and corridor, and the Corten steel cubes also visible from the outside. The varied height and location of bridges link the different sizes and positions of the Corten boxes. These offer a range of functions, from screening rooms to interactive installations area, and present the fascinating history and typology of volcanos. To create a more refined interior, the exhibition texts are situated directly on the wall without any supporting board.
If you ever wanted to imagine walking through a cubist painting, this building is a great example of how it might feel to wander into Picasso's Guernica. While passing below the red cubes, grey walls and bridges of the building, you have a real opportunity to comprehend the transience and vulnerability of human existence bracketed by such a formidable force of nature.
Project name: Kemenes Volcanopark Visitor Center
Location: Celldomolk, Vas County, Hungary
Program: Specific museum building to represent the volcanic history of the territory
Type: competition commission
Area/Size: 965 sqm
Client: Celldomolk City Council
Project by: Foldes Architects