Bank of Hungary in Budapest Hungarian Fort Knox

The famous Fort Knox in the USA is a legendary building. Will the seat of the National Bank in Budapest gain the same popularity?

Bank of Hungary in Budapest

In the strictly protected Fort Knox base in Kentucky, there are not only the United States Army institutions, but also American gold of the Federal Bank. The access to the precious bars is guarded by 1000 soldiers and very thick walls. The National Bank of Hungary does not have such a large number of guards, but it also has a treasury with gold ore, and the object itself is really impressive.

A little bit of history

The headquarters of the National Bank of Hungary in the center of Budapest, which has been under the protection of UNESCO since 1976, was erected at the beginning of the 20th century. About a hundred years later, in 2003, a competition for the design of another bank building – the mint – was announced. In accordance with its intended purpose, the building had to primarily meet special security requirements. The investors also expected impressive architecture, because the facility was located on the outskirts of the city, in the area of the southeastern part of the Budapest bypass, where many representative office buildings are being built. These two basic determinants were best combined by the Hungarian architect Márton Szabó.

Modern fortress

When developing the design, the architect tried to resemble the architecture of a medieval defense castle through the shape of the façade. Szabó also introduced elements of the Far East, symbolizing the Asian sources of monetary economy. As a result, a modern fortress was built, accommodating, among others, the mint, administration offices and the rooms of the whole Hungarian monetary logistics. The building put into use in 2006 looks like Fort Knox from the outside. It is a long complex with a protruding gate and high pillars, guarded by a large number of cameras. Despite this, the body does not look heavy owing to the used building materials.

Clinker, metal, glass

For aesthetic reasons, the architect planned a brick façade from the very beginning. The look of the material as well as the ease of its maintenance also convinced the investors to use it. However, the economic aspect played a much smaller role here than security: the access to the facility could not be provided to many companies from the outside. Painters and other contractors who would have to renew the façade, e.g. from plaster, would pose a risk to the security of this state institution. For the same reason, clinker was used also in the majority of the rooms inside the building. Because the architect, Márton Szabó, had negative experiences with another producer of clinker at one of the previous projects, this time it was necessary to find the highest quality material to satisfy the investors and to ensure durability of the façade.

Play of lights

The burgundy Röben Adelaide clinker brick was selected as it convinced everyone not only with its technical advantages, but also with the original and extremely beautiful color. The face of this smooth clinker brick, with its metallic shimmering surface, perfectly harmonizes with the aluminum elements. The large glass panes used on the façade give the building lightness and enable to admire the unique play of lights on a sunny day. With slanting rays, the clinker shimmers in blue and red. Despite the rather dark color, the Röben burgundy brick reflects the light also in the interiors. As a result, the rooms in the Hungarian Fort Knox are not only elegant, but also bright.