While the world busied itself with Brexit, the US presidential election, the Olympics, Euro 2016 and the Jolie-Pitt breakup, Budapesters had all the reasons to look inwards and take pleasure in the changes brought about by government-funded and private projects on the history-torn fabric of the city.
Széll Kálmán tér
The refurbishment of Széll Kálmán tér, the busiest traffic junction of Budapest, was definitely this past year’s most significant urban project. What was just two years ago a run-down open-air shelter for the homeless, a chaotic and grey concrete desert, has now become an organized, modern and sleek plaza, complete with a terraced public space, the planting of 179 new trees, a fun water fountain, and tiny thoughtful decorations, to make waiting for your friends an entertaining activity.
Interweaving tram network
Closely linked to the face-lifting of Széll Kálmán tér was the completion of the interweaving tram network (or “fonódó villamos”) project, resulting in two long north-south tramways corridors on the right bank of the River Danube, connecting the northern neighbourhood of Óbuda with southern Újbuda. Passenger service started on 16 January, with brand new low-floor CAF trams, giving the Buda side its very own sightseeing tramways in the form of lines 19 and 41.
After decades of neglect, Nehru Part was added to the list of the TÉR_KÖZ project’s successful public square transformations in the middle of September: stretching between Petőfi Bridge and the old-modern building of Bálna, the renewed riverfront community park now sports an outdoor fitness park, a skatepark, chess tables, a gigantic playground, a picnic area and a sports court, besides boasting a beautiful oasis of perennials.
The ongoing Ludovika Project had started in 2013 and will be finished in 2018, but 2016 marked the end of an important phase: after the completion of the Main Building of the National University of Public Service last year, the Finta and Associates Architecture Studio has handed over to students the imposing building of the university’s Residence Hall. However, the project has still a long way to go before crossing the finish line: a new educational building, a training center for law enforcement students, sport facilities and the reconstruction works of Orczy Park are expected to be completed by the end of 2017.