It is hardly surprising that architects find themselves retrofitting old spaces for new and emerging contemporary programmes as Budapest is known for the strata of its rich and complicated architectural heritage. Finding a place for modern programmes within a historic shell is a particularly interesting problem because frequently these programmes are still undergoing clarification in terms of what spatial arrangements they require. Pannka Part is a brand-new kind of play and community centre that is located in the middle of a bustling residential neighbourhood with access to the Danube shore.
The Palatinus House, which is primarily a residential structure but was one of the most opulent and contemporary structures when it was built in 1911, has space designated for the centre on the ground level.
The property's extraordinary interior heights and the enormous portals that provide a breathtaking view of the Danube, Margaret Island, and Buda Hills are its defining characteristics. The original space needed to be divided up in order to follow the organisational logic of the structure while yet maintaining its integrity and grandeur. Generally speaking, the architectural expression is reduced to a minimum, allowing the kids and the specially created toys to bring colour and life into the room.
The addition of appealing cross-visibilities across the various play areas is a standout aspect of the renovation. The original space's geometry is fully visible thanks to these new visual and physical linkages. Although the activity rooms are separated from one another, they are nonetheless linked by sizable inner glazings that are hidden beneath the ceiling. This makes the centre easier to navigate while ensuring that parents and kids are welcomed into an area that feels secure as well as comfortable. The large glass above the barriers also makes it possible for the sunshine to enter interior activity rooms, reducing the need for artificial lighting.
The distinctive façade apertures not only offer a breathtaking perspective of the Danube but also animate the neighbourhood by luring new families to use the play centre's amenities.
At the heart of the centre lies the free play area. Passersby and visitors are greeted with a glance into this space which has a particularly fresh, calm, and friendly atmosphere. Besides the replastered structural walls, the primary interior finish seen on the added elements is pine. Pine plywood is used to cover all new partitions while all specifically designed furniture is made out of pine wood veneer. This way the architectural expression of the space remains a backdrop to the colourful life that the children and toys bring into the environment. The only space where colours are allowed to dominate is in the bathroom area, where visitors are confronted by the vibrance of the coral mosaic. The architectural concept is foregrounded through the playful reception desk which is essentially a large pegboard that comes to life.
The neighbourhood now has a one-of-a-kind play centre that welcomes kids aged 0 to 6 to play in an area that promotes good interactions with the built environment thanks to the local council's repair of the formerly dilapidated historic building. A requirement during these formative years, but one that young parents in cities frequently find difficult to engage in.