22 January 2024
The Hungarian Parliament has adopted the new Hungarian Architecture Act, which aims to promote civic sense, improve the quality of life and preserve our architectural heritage and green spaces.
The new legislation affects all property investments, due to aesthetic and townscape requirements for construction plans and the preference for underused areas that have lost their industrial and logistical role.
The new Act intends to define the architectural direction for the future by respecting the Hungarian architectural heritage and architectural identity, with a strong emphasis on the pursuit of greater aesthetic quality.
For the creation of architectural beauty, architectural principles as a significant innovation are identified, which must be taken into account when drawing up plans, obtaining planning permissions and even during the entire construction process. One of these principles is the principle of civic sense and architectural quality, in which combination of words the term “civic” is used to express the commitment to quality preservation and quality creation and with the meaning of “sense”, which implies “judgement”, there is also an awareness, knowledge, learning and sophistication attitude. The requirements of civic sense and architectural quality are met when the construction activity is based on consciousness, takes into account the architectural culture of the locality and the Hungarian culture values and is consistent with the townscape requirements. The "civic sense" requirement reflects the disputes on Brutalist buildings – which have been at the forefront of disagreements - built during the socialist period that dominate the Budapest skyline but do not fit into the classical cityscape.
A further priority of the new Act is the protection of green areas and natural environment, therefore the use of brownfield sites (areas that have become derelict, underutilised, or degraded and are typically affected by environmental pollution, including ‘Rust Belt’ areas) should be favoured by architects and investors over greenfield sites for new development, and their use should be facilitated by providing a statutory tax exemption, combined with remediation.
A further important change is the prohibition of the incorporation of new unincorporated areas, with an emphasis on renovating and developing existing previously constructed building stocks rather than building new ones and with a hope that this will lead to a major change in the cityscape in the coming decades. There are hundreds of thousands of vacant properties, lands and abandoned buildings within the city boundaries, offering excellent opportunities, construction potential.
The Act enters into force in stages between 1 February 2024 and 1 July 2027.