Kemenes Volcanopark Visitor Center by Foldes Architects

The volcano visitor centre is in Celldömölk, Hungary , 200km west of Budapest.

CELLDÖMÖLK – A barren landscape in Celldömölk, Hungary seems a fitting location for a volcano centre.

Foldes Architects’ Kemenes Volcanopark was the winning entry in a 2009 competition to monumentalise the region, which while not currently active, used to be volcanic 5 million years ago. The site is a flat area between the city of Celldömölk and the 5 million year old Sag Hill, a former volcano.

Foldes Architects wanted to ‘capture the true substance of the location’. This materialised through the use of raw and industrial materials, including Corten Steel – an alloy that is allowed to rust – and raw concrete. The colours of the building – charcoal grey and rust – evoke the ash and lava of a volcano. You would be forgiven for thinking the building might have been part of an eruption.

Laszlo Foldes, the lead designer on this project, describes the experience of walking through the interior, ‘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 façade appear consistent with the interior: raw concrete walls, dark grey resin flooring, a steel staircase and corridor, and Corten steel cubes visible from outside.’
Rusted boxes ‘erupting’ from the façade contain different functions, including screening rooms, installation and exhibition spaces. Text next to the exhibits is written directly on the walls, adding to the rough aesthetic and somehow connecting the building to an earlier place in time.

The volcano centre is de-contextual. It has no relationship with surrounding houses or landscape, only with its volcanic history. It is a slightly apocalyptic building – erupting volumes, narrow windows and suspended fluorescent lights make the structure of the building unclear, disorienting the viewer.

Foldes describes the feeling one gets while walking through the space - ‘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’.

Photos courtesy of Tamas Bujnovszky

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