The Budapest Ethnographic Museum is a black monolith, a dark and compact triangular building that sits in the corner of a park like a blade that separates nature from city. Its shiny volume reflects both the fast urban flows and the slow passing of seasons. Two sides of the triangle face the streets and establish compact urban fronts, while the third one features a special connection to the park; a large fully glazed spiral ramp pierces the volume, offering to the visitors
a continuous relationship with the large green space while they move through the different levels of the museum.
Nevertheless at first sight the museum maintains a closed and mysterious character as a way to protect and emphasize the preciousness of its content: a collection of artifacts, documents and videos that can express the culture of a whole country. In this kind of museum, the role of design is crucial, since the ethnographic content always runs the risk of being ideologically manipulated by censoring those parts of the collection that are deemed “inconvenient”. As a matter of fact, our initial discussions with Gian Piero Frassinelli were mostly related to the role of architecture in preventing the misuse of such artifacts. Therefore from the very beginning we set one of the main aims of the project to be the development of an exhibition system that can host the maximum amount of artifacts, turning the depot of the collection into the exhibition itself.
The museum is conceived as a permeable public space that can participate to the daily life of the city, mixing the internal circulation of the building with the urban flows. The new pedestrian promenade that borders the park cuts through the entire length of the building becoming a full height arcade. This large arcade is a flexible empty space, which can be used as additional space for temporary exhibitions or as a venue for events but is, above all, a real urban space that can operate independently from the opening hours of the museum.