Újhegy housing estate in Kőbánya (District X, Budapest) is one of the largest of its kind in the capital, with population numbering nearly 17 000 according to the 2001 census. In recent years we have seen a population growth all around Budapest therefore the number is expected to be higher.
The housing estate and the surrounding public spaces were built between 1974-78 to accommodate an influx of tens of thousands of people. For decades only small ad hoc improvements have been done and the whole complex was falling and a state of disrepair.
Újhegy Promenade is the main street of the housing estate. The majority of public offices and services are located there such as the market, the community house, nurseries and schools. It is considered the centre of the estate.
At the time of our commission by the Local Government commissioned the state of the site was characterized by obsolescence and inaccessibility. The promenade was cut off from other important public spaces by retaining walls, outdated – if not dangerous – staircases and passages overgrown by vegetation. The space was not quite functioning as a lively centre, the previous design and the state of deterioration did not allow for the space to be used as originally intended.
When designing the technically and aesthetically outdated promenade, the most important intention was to create an inclusive public space. This also translated into integrating the previously disconnected public areas back to the main pedestrian routes. Not only, were we thinking of physical connection, our aim was to bring back Újhegy Promenade on the residents’ mental map as THE MAIN PROMENADE.
Újhegy Promenade’s new identity is legible through the family of elements and use of technical solutions. Inclusive pedestrian esplanade well connected with the housing estate and small functional hubs according to the previously identified needs of the main users.
The new design guides the flow of people in such a way as to easily locate and access all the available public services. At the main intersections, focal elements like water features were placed, whereas next to the local school small play and fitness features link with the pedestrian walkway.
Additionally, there is large amount of new street furniture, two public toilets, a group of mist poles and play features along the promenade. Bespoke elements have been installed such as 15 m tall ‘cloud factory’ – a column fitted with colour lights and misting system. Another unique touch is a collection of close to 40 mini copper sculptures linked with Kőbánya’s past and discretely scattered throughout the promenade for the vigilant eye to find.
The project has received three awards – MUT-Icomos – Public Renewal of the Year Award – 2017 in the category of residential renovation. Special award from Flower Hungary Competition in 2018 by the Hungarian Tourist Association and Construction Industry Award – Complex Infrastructure Category, 2020.
Since its completion Újhegy Promenade is loved and used by the residents. The new design enabled the area to become an important social hub and active platform for events and activities.
Year after year we visit the promenade to get a sense of how people use our design, how they relate to it and how the space evolves with time. Even with the small faults the space encourages people to interact, talk, play and most importantly smile at each other.
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (architects and landscape architects):
Phase I – Kádár Komplex Kft., Vialux Kft., Mata-Dór Kft.;
Phase II & III – EKHO Építész Műterem Kft., Pest-Terv Kft., Vialux Kft., Rilti Kft., Komáromi Gergely, K. Boda Ilona, Bisothka Noémi, Biodigit Kft., Verdure Bt.
Year Built: Phase I – 2013-2014;
Phase II & III – 2017-2019
Photographer: Attila Glázer
Manufacturer of urban equipment: VPI and mmcité
Manufacturer of playground equipment: Ledon, Polyduct, Hags and Berliner Selfabrik