Public Architecture in East-Central Europe

The Department of Public Building Design at the Faculty of Architecture of Budapest University of Technology and Economics is committed to presenting community architecture to the professional and wider public.

Therefore, we consider it our priority to discover, understand and promote a selection of contemporary architectural works from the East-Central European region. Our initiative, PACE - Public Architecture from East-Central Europe is dedicated to this cause.

Region as a geographical and cultural unit has special significance in the age of globalization when there is unlimited access to a vast amount of information on architecture. In such circumstances, the relevance of the constructed environment and our knowledge about it seems to diminish. As a direct consequence of the historical development of East-Central Europe, we are still influenced by the patterns of the past that defined directions of cultural, including architectural orientation. These patterns are related to the German, French, British, Italian and Scandinavian cultures and trends which had gained international influence. Besides linguistic limitations and cultural differences, this is the reason why horizontal architectural connections of the region are underdeveloped. Proximity, the opportunity to exchange experiences, our shared past and future should all accelerate the flow of information between these countries. Within the scope of this mission, PACE aims to become an institutionalized platform.

Besides the online selection, we wish to create a forum for discussion and experience sharing. The main task of the selection is to represent and promote high-quality architecture from the region. By doing so, it aims to raise the standard of architectural education and consequently, to help preserve our most important cultural heritage: our built environment.

PACE is an online selection of the most outstanding public buildings and communal architectural projects of nine East-Central European countries: Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.

To be eligible, completed works have to serve a community purpose and represent high architectural standards. Quality is of major importance because we want the selection to become a reference point for architects, architecture students, and the wider public as they navigate the myriad of architectural projects. We consider it important to display a wide array of works from the field of communal architecture, therefore, besides representing the classical functions of public buildings, we aim to show alternative examples of the use of public space.

We have organized the works of the selection around three categories: Recollective Architecture, Sustainable Communities, and Innovative Public Spaces. Due to the diverse social context of public architecture, a project may be listed under all three categories.

Recollective Architecture
The works belonging to this category are reconstructions of historical buildings that serve contemporary functions, contemporary extensions of historical buildings, historical monuments and initiatives which play an integral role in preserving the memory and identity of a certain community.
We welcome completed projects that focus on the architectural complexities and patterns of past eras through the concepts of collective and cultural memory and reflect on these by the means of contemporary architecture.

Sustainable Communities
Sustainability has three, interrelated and interdependent pillars: economic development, social wealth and the protection of the environment. All three are necessary for public architecture to be constructed in a sustainable manner and to serve the sustainability of the community that has initiated it. The category of Sustainable Communities welcomes projects that were realized through community work, communal planning, or are characterized by communal use.
In this category, we list projects that support disadvantaged communities, initiatives that help increase the social presence and representation of minorities, works that promote solidarity, social and environmental aspects and projects in which design is based on dialog within the community.

Innovative Public Spaces
The use of public spaces, their functional systems and methods of construction are in constant change. This change can be traced back to the transformation of community activities, the evolution of technology and construction methods, changing functional expectations towards different types of buildings, and the appearance of spatial and chronological flexibility as a requirement. In the category of Innovative Public Spaces, we wish to include completed projects that reinterpret the use of public spaces.

The selection is open to include new works once each year. The national associates make 3 suggestions for the selection from projects of their own country. The most outstanding works are presented on the website, increasing the prestige of the extending database. The project webpage wishes to become an internationally renowned forum representing the architecture of the East-Central European region. In the future, we plan to extend the framework of the selection by launching an architectural prize and to organize a conference with the participation of our national associates of the region.

Budapest, April 2020.

Prof. Levente Szabó DLA