Palace Quarter Program / Palotanegyed Európa Belvárosa Program
Budapest, 2007-2012

The continuous valorization of the Palace Quarter / Interview with György Alföldi, by Attila Rácz. The status of the Palace Quarter is becoming more and more similar to the position of the 5th district, and more and more people are choosing this area to become its inhabitants, claims György Alföldi, member of the directors’ board of Rév8 Plc. We asked one of the creators responsible for the Downtown or Europe Program to evaluate its elements, the reactions of the residents to them, and the participation of the ngo’s.

Why did the program get the name “Downtown of Europe”?
We wanted to refer ti the tendencies mentioned above, the existence of different city functions. It was also our goal to indicate a direction the program should be aiming at. When the concept was formulated, the social rehabilitation of the city had already begun in the Magdolna Quarter and the Corvin Promenade Program was already in 2007, and the implementation was started two years later.

The central concept of the “Downtown of Europe” is the cultural and economic development. What would you highlight considering the steps made in the process?
It was important to make the inhabitants of Józsefváros and Budapest get to know the the values of the quarter with cultural events that took place every second week in 2010 where people could meet the local tradesmen. Moreover, the 19th century building at 13 Horánszky Street was also renovated and became a community place.
In the centre of the program’s heritage protection element stands the above mentioned 13 Horánszky Street with the student and investment development centre that is planned to work here.
The building that will be ready in October has 3 functions. First of all, it will be an information centre which provides information on the events in the quarter. Secondly, its will function as a student centre will target the 20 000 student of the Palace Quarter. Thirdly, it will be a kind of incubator house aiming at helping local investments.

If I know well, there were many arguments about the rebuilding of the public spaces?
Most debates were about the rebuilding of the streets because traffic was reduced as pedestrian streets were built. This also resulted in the elimination of parking places which infuriated some people.
On the important aims the program articulates is that the inhabitants and tourists should spend more time in public spaces.
The aim of the lighting program is to highlight the architectural values and to extend the time that can be spent in the streets in the evening. LED lighting is used on five buildings. My personal favorite is 2 Mikszáth Square.

How did the inhabitants react upon all these changes?
It became apparent at the forums that many were critical about the changes made considering the rebuilding of the streets. The original plans of the local government were redesigned because of the inhabitants.

What are your experiences with working together with local ngo’s?
I have mention the Association of Citizens for the Palace Quarter because I have never met such an active and stable association before. There are also many art projects running in the streets and squares of the Palace Quarter. The program of the Újirány Group with the inner courtyard and the ortophoto projects, for example, are sensational.

Will there be any further developments after the program ends 2012?
The most interesting process of the near future is how and when the inhabitants will start using the new environment. You see people in the streets and the cafes more and more often, just like in Paris and Budapest before the war. Also, people’s need for preserving values has risen due to real estate crisis and instead of building new houses people start renovating. Municipality will sustain the results of the program, and they will continue the projects that have begun. The H13 student and investment development centre will serve as the base of further developments in the quarter.

What sort of long-term visions do you have considering the future of the Palace Quarter?
I am convinced that the role of the Palace Quarter will become more valuable with time. As the downtown will become more livable, more and more will move back again.The process of moving out of the city will change, and many will choose the downtown as their homes and workplaces, especially the Palace Quarter, which has a remarkable architectural environment, not to mention all the institutions it contains.

[Tihanyi Dominika ed.: Palotanegyed Most, Past, Present, Future, 2012, Budapest, Józsefvárosi Önkormányzat, pp: 16-17]

Urban Planner & Manager of the Municipality / Önkormányzati Várostervező és Projektmenedzser: Rév8 Zrt,
Lead Planners & Managers / Vezető tervezők, menedzserek: Alföldi György, Sárkány Csilla, Csete Zoltán, Horváth Dániel, ifj. Erdősi Sándor, Tibor Tamás
Planner, Developer, Manager Team of Rév8 / Rév8 Tervező, Fejlesztő, Menedzser csapata : Juharos Róbert, Faragó Csaba, Kolossa József, Csatlós Kitty, Schanz Judit,
Client / Építtető: Budapest VIII. Kerület Józsefvárosi Önkormányzat
Project area / Projekt terület: 440 000 m2
Project cost / Projekt összköltség: 27,0 mEuro
Photos: Nyáry Gyula, Tóth Kornél,

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