by Akash SinghAug 15, 2023
The Hungarian Canoe Federation wished to create a multifunctional site that would be suitable for both landing and stopping for kayaks and canoes. The Ark, designed by Budapest-based firm Napur Architecture, is an attempt to replace the sites that had previously disappeared along the Danube River due to increase in water levels or land acquisitions. This was conceived as a long-term development idea by the federation for the upliftment of the sports community as well as to create a cultural centre.
The earlier headquarters of the Hungarian Canoe Federation operated as a boat house and several clubs were located on what is now known as the Moscow Promenade. However, due to unfortunate circumstances in the 1990s, these facilities ceased to exist along this stretch of the Danube's east bank. To generate more opportunities as well as a sense of community, the Federation developed a concept to design a floating yacht over the Danube River moored in front of the Federation Building, equipped with a porting site, changing rooms and ship storage. This would also be used as a training, education and community centre and an exhibition space.
The Ark was designed to create symbolism and commemorate the cause, giving rise to a kayak or canoe-themed centre with an apt name. Marcel Ferencz and György Détári, the principal architects of the firm, said, “The Ark will be able to present the history of canoeing and it becomes a community space where events for any athlete can be held. These would not be restricted to water sports and would serve an everyday water hiker, a young athlete or a professional competitor. It would serve a larger purpose and can be used as a place where any sport journey could begin or end”.
The Ark is now a floating cultural centre, a new location for events and gatherings bringing people together by the Danube River. Two steel bridges connect the ground and the yacht’s uppermost deck and the event area, which includes a receiving space and a closed board room to hold press conferences and events. On the south side of the floating boat, a raised-deck terrace has been created. Also present are a cloakroom, an information desk and an electric centre. Two large glass covered sections are sunken in the floor to give a glimpse of what is happening below.
A steel staircase connects the hull and the upper event area of the Ark. Service facilities for 240 guests have been housed in the bottom level of the boat, along with crew and the staff housing, a kitchen, technology spaces and two engine rooms. A storage area below the raised terrace has a room for boats and sports activities with accessible toilets. From the ship's warehouse one can directly go to the floating pole installed behind the ship.
The structure of the steel frames that is repeated through the design is used in a multiplicity of forms, to create an enclosure, to create shade and to support the frame of the hull in the boat. Discussing the construction of the visually appealing boat that is docked on the shore of the Danube River, Ferencz and Détári mention, “Based on the structural solutions of the cross-section, we developed a strange new architecture for the floating site. The 34-piece (5.5m-10m) steel frame posts, all along the board, adjust to the structural raster of the lower hull.” The TS steel barges used to create the structure of the Ark manufactured in series between 1968 and 1972 by the MAHART Ship Repair Service were originally intended for freight transport. Hence, the barge had an engineered character due to its function, a disciplined design principle and an internal raster.
The porous, transparent yet covered appearance of the yacht not only serves the purpose but also creates an immediate impression due to its scale. The ship is uniformly designed with a white lustre inside out. The state of simplicity, power and harmonious coexistence aim to characterise the new floating boat on the Danube, where the river has always inspired mystery.
Name: The Ark
Project size: 1400 sqm
Completion date: 2019
Building levels: 2
Architect: NAPUR Architect Ltd.
Lead architects: Marcel Ferencz , György Détári
Project team: NYUL Dávid, HOLYBA Pál
Co-architect: DÉTÁRI György