Volcano Visitor Center, designed by Foldes Architects, is located west of Budapest in Hungary. Due to the land of Hungary being volcanic over 5 million years ago, the volcanic soil is high in quality for wine production, one of Hungary’s largest export products.
With this in mind, the 965 sq m Volcano Visitor Centre has been realized by Foldes Architects after a nationwide architectural competition by the city council with the brief for a museum building to represent the volcanic history of the territory. Over 44 entries were made into the competition, with Foldes Architects winning the brief and leading to the design of the centre on a flat area between the city of Celldomolk and the 5 million year old former volcano site.
Upon entering the interior of the building the visitor meets a vertical open space with a small window, five floors above, creating a beam of eruptive light on the flat roof. The entrance also contains the industrial materials of the façade; naked concrete walls, dark grey resin flooring, a steel staircase and corridor, with corten steel cubes visible from the exterior.
Chief designer of Foldes Architects, Laszlo Foldes explains:
‘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’.
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.
While passing below the red cubes, grey walls and bridges of the building, visitors have a real opportunity to comprehend the transience and vulnerability of human existence surrounded by such a formidable force of nature.