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CET Budapest

CET Budapest

CET = Central European Time. CET is also a synonym for a whale. The Mixed Use Development CET at the Kozraktar between the Petofi and the Szabadsag Bridge is both. The CET concept refers to Budapest as an important metropolitan centre in the heart of Central Europe. The CET shape somehow refers to the smooth and friendly streamlined body of a whale. The new CET development has the potential to put Budapest once again on the map of the world. Name and shape of the CET symbolizes its cultural potential and commercial pole position in one of the best preserved cities in the world.


The river Danube fascinates in Budapest for its fast flow on its trajectory downward from the german Schwarzwald to the Black Sea. While the Danube both separates and unites Buda and Pest, the CET aims at re-establishing visual contact at this point between the two sides of the river. Newly planned inviting terraces will visually open the once hermetic Kozraktarak to the University and the Gellért Hotel. Hopefully a watertaxi system will be re-introduced to create direct connections for the people between the two sides as well. The body of the CET landmark building is developed along the flow of the Danube. Its architectural and urban expression evolves with the direction of the flow. The CET’s origin stems from the side of the city centre, grows in size between the two parallel existing buildings of the Kozraktar and then culminates at the south side, the side of the National Theatre and the new Cultural Centre, in a striking landmark building representing the state-of-the-art in architectural design and building technology, not unlike the old long ago removed Elevator Building from the 19th Century wherefrom the goods were distributed by rail to the 6 warehouses which originally occupied the banks of the Danube.

Transformation from Old to New

Three of the 6 warehouses are now remaining, and the brief requests to keep at least 60% of the volume intact, while rightfully demanding to take away the first 20m of the 2 warehouses closest to the city to create a small square to improve the connection with the city south of the beautifully renovated Csarnok. Taking this into consideration, the design team proposes to develop the Kozraktar landmark complex in a smooth transition from old to new. The first two warehouse buildings will be carefully renovated while adjusting the size of the vertical windows as to open up the hermetic nature of the buildings to the Danube, to the interior gallery and reach out to the adjoining district with the succesful Raday Utca nearby.

CET square

The CET proposal physically connects well with the surrounding city fabric. At the city side in the north a 25 x 50 m wide square is created which attracts all sorts of urban metropolitan activities. To enhance the activity level on this small but uniquely located square, with its splendid view on the Szabadsag bridge and the Gellért Mountain, the design team proposes to unveil the northern ends of the warehouses. Exactly where the 20m sectors are cut off from the parallel buildings to give space for the square, transparant glass facades reveal the delicate interior construction of the old warehouses. The liveliness on the square will find its natural continuation into the businesses located at the heads of the warehouse and into the glass covered gallery space between the buildings. At the south side the CET opens up to the Nehru Park, while the two long sides are opening up to the Ráday area at the east side and the University / Gellért area at the other side of the Danube.


The explicit purpose of the new CET development is to create a timeless new landmark structure for Budapest at this prestigious site. The CET landmark complex consists of the 2 renovated warehouses, the glass roof inbetween them transforming into the soft looking body of the glass whale. It will be experienced as a landmark structure both from the inside as well from the outside. From the outside the curved surfaces in combination with the sharp folds, starting where the glass volume leaves the 18m wide space inbetween the warehouses and fading out into the convex curved surface of the sides of the main body. A huge cantilevering nose adds to the architectural drama and adds a dynamic vector to the overall volume of the CET, in the same direction as the river Danube. The 160m long glass structure evokes the feeling of flow.

Non Standard Architecture

The design team has chosen the language of Non-Standard Architecture to express the ambition to be a landmark for our era. Non-Standard Architecture is based on the modern production process of mass-customization where there is no longer a need for repetition of exactly similar elements. In the CET all pieces of steel and glass are unique in size and shape, and yet this is economically viable thanks to the advanced computer-driven file-to-factory production process as developed by the architect, and proven in practice in several award-winning projects. The 3d model of the architect is directly communicated with the CNC [computer numerical control] production machines. The advantages of a truly Non-Standard Architecture are huge. It creates a new freedom of expression for the architect and the richness of its expression combined with the evident logic of mass-customization has proven itself to appeal to a large public.

Brick, glass, steel and natural aluminium

The marriage of clear glass and red brick will create an unique atmoshere at the entrance of the new CET development. Old and new unites seamlessly and forms the introduction to the all new steel structure of the landmark, covered with a structural diagrid facade with alternating flat glass windows and convex curved aluminium sandwichpanels. The natural aluminium absorbs the colours of the surroundings, while the glass panels will allow for open views into the inside and at the same time will reflect the people, the passing traffice and the more remote neighbouring buildings and trees. The interlacing of reflecting glass and absorbing natural aluminium in the unique Non-Standard Architecture diagrid system of the facade will provide for a lively and always expressive facade, in visual richness and production logic - although with completely different means - referring to the elaborate turn of the century secession hungarian national style [A szecessziós magyar nemzeti stílus].

Mixed Use Development

The CET is a small-scale but mature Mixed Use Development. It houses a variety of usage ranging from small boutiques and bars to larger shops and restaurants. A cruxial programmatic content of the CET is the 1500m2 CET Event Space on the 2nd floor of the glass body. The aim of the CET is to offer a 24 hour activity program for the city of Budapest. It will become a natural attraction point for young and old, it offers a mix of experimental and traditional culture, of small scale souk-style shops, high quality brand shops and bookstores, designer bars and themed restaurants, while the big event space is able to accomodate large crowds. The Mixed Use Development concept guarantees a lively use of the complex and promises to become an destination for both tourists and inhabitants of Budapest.

CET Gallery

The glass roof of the CET gallery spans between the parallel buildings. The roof transforms from a traditional section in the style of the 19th century architecture into the three-dimensional roofstructure which transforms 80m furtheron into the large stylized glass bulb. Under the glass roof of the CET Gallery a zig-zagging system of connecting bridges and escalators stitch the two sides and the three commercial floors to each other. The diagonals provide for higly dynamic interior spaces leading the eye and the movement of people in a natural way to the panorama deck of the landmark structure. The Gallery extends into the interior of the new steel and glass volume and unites the old and the new in the experience of the visitors in the daily use of the Gallery while shopping and dining out.

CET Event Space

Escalators are leading the public up to the large CET Event Space and the lobby at the extreme south corner of the building. The interior architecture of the event sapce is conceived as a continuous red carpet which forms the floor, curves up to form the wall at the north end, continues its trajectory to form the acoustic ceiling above the 200m2 stage, comes down to become the restaurant and comes more down to form the lobby space, splits and descends to be the flat floor theatre of the event space itself. From the outside this event space will appear like a red cloud hanging high inside the glass volume of the landmark structure. Seeing this striking red cloud people will immediately feel connected to it and find their way up easily. From the inside the restaurant area above the event space and the lobby space offer great views to the Danube river in an almost 360 degree panorama. The CET event space will be maximum flexible, hosting a wide variety of usage, ranging from classical and popular musical performances to fashion shows, car shows and special social venues.

CET Plaza

The CET body rests on the spacious CET Plaza, which forms the roof of the parking garage below. The CET Plaza is 1m raised in relation to the adjacent Nehru Park and the 6m wide public walkway and bicycle path along the Danube. From the CET Plaza the public has a splendid view over the Danube enjoying both the view on the Petofi and the Szabadsag Bridge, as well as offering an unobstructed view on the Gellert Hotel and Gellert Mountain. The CET landmark structure is accessible from all three sides from the Plaza. Stairs for unformal sitting is provided for along all edges of the 1m raised platform, paved with natural stone and horizontal glass, bringing natural light into the two parking garage levels. The CET Plaza is directly connected to the 3m wide strip with terraces at the Danube side of the old warehouse and has an open connection to the Nehru Park.

CET tea house

At the very south-east corner of the whole CET development a 20m long sector of the third warehouse is preserved and renovated. The brick volume will be radically wrapped in a maximum transparant glass facade, turning the warehouse into an invitingly open Wintergarten teahouse, full of exotic plants while serving high tea, coffee and pastries. Surprisingly the basement of the teahouse is tansformed to become the entrance of the parking garage.

CET clockwork

At the other extreme corner of the CET Paza at the south-west side the design team proposes an art work symbolising the theme of CET. A giant atomic clockwork indicates the exact Central European Time mounted on a solitair transparant glass wall. The CET clock takes on the shape of the contour of the fourth warehouse which once completed the series of warehouses.

CET Duna Terrace

The CET Duna Terrace strip will become probably one of the most popular places in early 21st century Budapest. Sitting in front of the renovated warehouses on the 1m elevated terraces, overlooking the Danube, watching the lively boat traffic [and watertaxi's] from very near, at the foot of the iconic new landmark structure feeling its imposing presence, and thus making the clientele of the restaurants and bars feel at home in the 21st century, the CET Duna Terrace strip is bound to become a hot spot in the southern edge of the Budapest city centre.

CET parking

The CET complex of Mixed Use Development is functionally supported by a 250 places parking garages, built on no more then two underground levels [the roof being raised 1m to form the CET Plaza] to avoid excessive foundation costs due to the general water level of the Danube. There is a direct access from the parking garage tot the commercial spaces at the disclosed basement of the CET Gallery space. At the same -1 floor level at the east side an underpass delivery space is projected for bringing in the daily goods. In this way the design team has avoided to create a less attractive back side of the complex. Thus all four sides of the development are visually attractive and accessible by the public from ground floor level and -1 level. Cars enter the parking garage driving through the basement of the teahouse above. The original basement forms the entrance space with the ticket machines and the guard’s office. Right here inbetween the brick arches and the mullionless glass interior walls the car driver understands the developers message that [s]he is entering a landmark development which is characterized by a marriage of old and new. Brick and glass, steel and aluminium, rectinilear warehouses and a rounded glass covered building body merge together to form a new integrity named the CET.

Project: CET
Location: Kozraktar, Budapest
Client: Porto Investment Hungary Kft. Budapest
Project architect: Marthijn Pool

Lead design: Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd

Design team: Owen Slootweg, Rafael Seemann, Paulina Gurak, Michael Gorczynski, Lidia Badarnah, Jan Gasparik, Petr Vokal, Attila Bujdoso, Judit Márku, Péter Romvári, Béla Kali, Tom Krzempek, Anna Nagy, Bas Wijnbeld

Partners: MTM, SiSu, Budapest
Year: 2006
Gross Floor Area: 18644 m2
Parking garage: 7252 m2

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One Trackback

  1. By Louanne on June 4, 2013 at 3:03 am


    CET Budapest…

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