Title of the project:

Barrier-free access to Eger Castle

Project type: community and cultural, design competition, Plan type, Projects
Prize: mention
Project year: 2019
Keywords: accessibility, barrier-free access, castle, Eger, visitor centre, visitors’ centre
Architect partner: Ferenc Répás

The Eger Castle is currently undergoing extensive development, which aims to develop the tourism of the national memorial site, to create the conditions for receiving visitors and to maintain and conserve national monuments. Our design completes the aesthetics and functions of the existing design, which is already under construction, by creating an accessible way to and within the castle grounds.

One of our main priorities was the protection of the environment of the national monuments and the townscape. We did not find it justified to show off the new function drastically inside the geometry of the Castle. The mass we see today has developed throughout over half a millennium; it is the result of historical events leaving their mark. The elevator as a function is only a tool to present these events, therefore we left the exterior mass of the castle untouched.

Arriving from the town centre, namely Dobó square or Gárdonyi square, the first stop towards getting to the Castle is the Eger Castle Visitors’ Centre under 30 Dobó street. Here, the information point and ticket office, exhibition areas and a café greet the visitors, and it is the starting point of the elevators serving as wheelchair-accessible transportation to-and-from the Castle and the castle walkway, towards the Northern gate. We find it important that the pedestrian and barrier-free paths leave from the same place, however, the pedestrian path should run on the existing Castle walkway, not through a closed stairwell.

The elevator leaves from the end of the tunnel, which runs straight from the doorway of 30 Dobó street and arrives north of the south-eastern cannon-hill of the Castle courtyard. From here a barrier-free walkway can be built with minimal landscaping towards the touristic functions around the Varkoch-gate and the inner areas of the Castle.

The Castle walkway continues leading towards the Northern gate, or in reality, its starting point, is the terrace of the visitors’ centre, which descends through a staircase to the ground floor of the centre, then to Dobó street.

We are counting on the historically accurate renovation of the visitors’ centre, and the minimal modifications to the interior spaces, which strengthen and serve the new purpose. The existing outer gate, which is non-existent in the photographs of the time will be demolished. In its place, four alcoves will be built, which can be run independently offering different services, even with varying opening hours. Venturing further in, to the right are the information and ticket offices, to the left are the entryways to the exhibition halls and café, while at the end of the gateway sliding doors open to the corridor to the elevator and the stairs leading to the Castle walkway. A near-straight, direct tunnel lengthwise divided into sections runs from the gateway to the elevators. The ceiling of the tunnel rises, the increasing height of the space above illustrates the slope of the Castle courtyard, therefore the visitor is in contact with it even when on the horizontal path.

We have situated the place of arrival of the elevator close to the new touristic and arrival functions around the Varkoch-gate’s tower, completing the ongoing developments.

The grassy area above the Ispotály Cellar is currently outside of life the Castle. Right above the Cellar, the longish mound with the blighted lawn stands out, and not in a positive sense. We defined the upstairs exit of the elevators as the highest point of a wedge-shaped lawn. It extends to the mound above the Cellar, therefore hiding its unevenness.

Between the wedge, where the entrance of the elevator is situated, and the southwestern cannon hill a wide staircase sectioned by benches also leads to the cannon hill, which is home to the National Flag, providing a worthy arrival, while creating space for smaller events.