Spring up Smart Living in Budapest - Graphisoft park

The blogpost was written by Marine Mellado Ruiz and Jesus Roche

In many touristic guides, you can read that Budapest was founded with the merger of two cities in each bank of the Danube: Buda and Pest. Actually they were 3 cities that joined in 1873, because you have to include Óbuda, north Buda.

However, Budapest is actually many cities into a unique entity. The configuration of the historic districts of the city was virtually designed late XIXth century, when three cities were joined. But during the XXth century, some “cities” have been growing as going further afield Budapest.

The historic town of the late nineteenth century is nothing like the dwellings that occupy the slopes of Buda Hill or the working-class suburbs with identical building blocks bordering the city centre, built during the old regime. Perhaps we should say that they have all grown up with a common feature: doing so “ignoring” the river.

But one of the most interesting proposals is the recent construction of the technologic area of Graphisoft Park. Both given the concept park proposal itself and the new relationship established between the urban area and the river.

Graphisoft R&D is a software development company founded in 1982 that has become a world leader with its architectural design software, ArchiCAD. A company from a small country against the American giant Autodesk, but that has managed to stand up adapting its product to the specificities of each consumer from different countries. It’s another way of understanding the relationship between customer and product.

As explained in by Graphisoft's park founders, “its mission is to offer an environment that helps its businesses attract the most talented, most ambitious employees.” Companies have the possibility to evolve into a friendly urban space in which the traffic is excluded (by building a large underground parking for 3000 vehicles) and pedestrian routes domain. But it’s not only that. In addition, all buildings have been designed with sustainable criteria and a successful architectural style. They are rented to companies under lease, thus providing the flexibility to move to another building according to the needs of the business in the future.

Besides all this, Graphisoft Park has been developing an advanced learning centre, the Aquincum Institute of Technologie (AIT-Budapest), which brings the innovative concept of this technologic park a leap forward. It aims to achieve the same concept as the Sillicon Valley in California but through the reverse process. Established alongside existing businesses, the new educational campus will be at their service: providing not only human assets, but also sharing the newest trends in knowledge and technology.

It is similar to the Climate-Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) vision in Europe. The Pioneers into Practice programme – in which we are involved – aims at integrating a climate change network of European partners from the private, public and academic sectors.

Likewise, Graphisoft Park represents a new concept in urban planning. When Gábor Bojár decided to move the headquarters of Graphisoft, he sought a new location that would offer the possibility to grow and to establish a new relationship between this new urban development and the riverbanks. He found this unique site on the land occupied by the old Óbuda Gas factory, built at the turn of the 19-20th century.

In this case, the transition from the land to the river is friendlier, keeping the traffic away from the riverbanks and creating a public promenade along the river in the stretch of Graphisoft Park. It’s a pity this path doesn’t reach the centre of Budapest and if you come by bike you have to make a detour rather large across the suburbs of the city. It would be a good project to enable a continuous access to wanderers by constructing an enlarged gateway along the riverbanks between Graphisoft Park and Árpád Bridge to set the connection with Margit Sziget.