BUDAPEST: Approaching the city’s new House of Music, Hungary, the low structure ahead is intriguing, its roof punctuated with what appears to be splotches of gold.
Up close the roof hovers like an undulating canvass. The exterior wall is curved translucent glass reflecting trees and passersby. Everywhere on the ceiling and walls a visitor encounters the architect’s whimsical touch, shimmering gold objects that resemble falling leaves. The tranquil beauty of the Budapest City Park (Varosliget) merges seamlessly into the building’s spare, modern interior.
In a city with several fine concert venues, the House of Music has a broader educational purpose. Its exhibition spaces, galleries, library and compact performance hall showcase Hungary’s rich musical history– Liszt, Bartok, Kodaly.
On the windswept spring day that I visited, the House of Music was a destination for family outings. The hemispheric sound dome on the lower level was especially popular. There 60 visitors at a time experience reverberating sounds coming from all directions.
There is no entrance fee and the café and restaurant are moderately priced. On the main floor children scamper over benches and climb steps of the seating area tucked in a corner.
In 2014 the design of Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto was chosen from 170 entries. The 50-year-old Fujimoto is best known for his experimental designs for residential structures and public spaces in Japan, Europe and the Middle East.
From the lower level Fujimoto’s spiral staircase mirrors Frank Lloyd Wright’s curved ramps in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
The musical theme continues outside where there is a small amphitheater and playground where six bean bags emit different sounds when jumped upon by children.
An aerial photo provided by the Varosliget Project reveals the many perforations in the roof, the golden shafts that bring natural light into the building.
In all, I suspect the House of Music Hungary will be judged a success. For me it’s more than that. It’s an architectural gem in Budapest’s historic city park.
(Other architectural reflections from Barry:)