Sauflon Centre of Innovation by Foldes Architects

The ethereal centre of innovation project, unveiled in Hungary, stands for the mutual inspiration of science, technology and art. A twenty four meter passage surrounded by the reflections of reflections. Foldes Architects involved a glass sculptor to compose the illusion effects engaging the visual notion of all visitors.

Despite the economic challenges of the last years, the contact lens industry remained remarkably prosperous. A leading producer of contact lens and aftercare solutions, Sauflon, decided to establish a part of their lens production in Hungary. A decision, which was followed by the foundation of a subsidiary company in 2005. The opening of the Hungarian production facility ensured a 35% yearly growth, therefore in March 2012 the British parent company decided to create a centre of innovation in Hungary to present the latest technologies in the form of a first class business and clinical training series of inspiring spaces. Five local architectural studios had been invited to tender for the project, which was eventually won by the renowned Foldes Architects.

Laszlo Foldes, chief designer of Foldes Architects, explained the concept that lay behind his company’s presentation.

‘The task was to create an iconic yet functional centre of innovation which mainly serves as the showcase for the high-tech, innovative production methods used in the manufacturing of the latest generation, high-quality contact lens products of Sauflon. 700 people in 4 shifts work daily at the factory which shares the space with the centre of innovation. Though lens production can’t be compared to average factory operation it still meant the industrial to us. It challenged our minds how to couple it to a pure, event and conference oriented, guest welcoming, elegant space. The concept derived from the definition of lens, the means of vision, and also we took inspiration from the high-technology of the lens industry, therefore clean, intelligent, integrated solutions as well as playful reflections, gloss surfaces and transparency played great importance during the design. This concept is supported by the resin flooring, the glass bridges, the opened-up volume and the tremendous flow of light streaming through the glass façade and the glass roof.’ He said.

Some 20 kilometres South of the capital, Budapest, in the heart of a modern industrial park, among bunches of metal masts, this hidden beauty is waiting for visitors from other lands. The physical production process is settled in the same building, only a door divides it from the centre of innovation space.

To the façade a huge glass surface is used to maximize the amount of light flowing in. After entering, the 10 meter high volume remains open and a 24 meter-long passage welcomes visitors with a sloped glass surface at the end which tricks the vision. On the right hand side the core functions are located: first a lounge with a 24m2 glass wall presenting the visual ID of the company, then a cloakroom hidden by ‘floating’ glass doors and finally the rebel pink glass covered cafe including kitchen and the mechanical room behind. Above, a wooden box is cantilevered, a house within the house, which serves as an auditorium with 32 seats and an integrated interpreter-cabin for conferences.

The box can be entered from the upstairs guest area, through two green glass bridges. The next bridge gives access to the fitting room where clinical training is delivered and the newest lenses can be experienced. A 12 seat meeting room can be reached through the same bridge. On the ground floor a white door opens up the secret of the Sauflon Centre of Innovation – visitors can enter the production area here which provides a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the technologies used by one of the most pioneering companies in optics. An iconic text welcomes their arrival: ‘Innovation is at the heart of everything we do.’

Collaborating glass sculptor, Andras Bojti remarked: ‘Our aim was to create and present all details in relation with each other, which resulted in a special experience for visitors, they sense the unity of the layers and surfaces based on these relationships, while moving around the centre. Thanks to the shared work with Laszlo Foldes and his team the result challenges the visitors in all possible ways: visually, spiritually and intellectually. This is an emblematic project that stands for the shared thinking process of a sensitive architect and an independent artist, also of the collaborative work model, and the implementation of a sculptor’s vision into a physical space. The therapeutic effect is the core of this project; the creation of an atmosphere to influence people enjoying exceptional Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Hungarian origin artist of the 20th century drew the attention of the public to the importance and meanings of vision through his art works, theories and books, among which the Vision in Motion, speaking about the ‘man’s fundamental qualities, of his intellectual and emotional requirements, of his psychological well-being and his physical health.’ All of these facets of the human experience were used in this exciting new project.

Project name: Sauflon Centre of Innovation
Location: Gyal, Pest County, Hungary
Program: Innovation Centre attached to Sauflon contact lens factory
Type: competition commission
Area/Size: 730 m2
Year: Design: 2013 • Completion: November 2013
Cost: 850.000 EUR
Client: Sauflon CL Kft.
Project by: Foldes Architects
Principal Designer: Laszlo Foldes
Project Design Team: Johanna Csuri, Tamas Holics
Co-designer glass sculptor: Andras Bojti
Images: Tamas Bujnovszky
Text: Viktoria Szepvolgyi


Sommelier’s Home by Architema

The residence is located in the suburban area of Budapest. Built on a plot that offers a spectacular panorama and steeply slopes on the north side. The beauty of the bright white villa lies in the exciting geometrical shapes and the exceptional high quality of construction. Yet the modest style are far from being common architectural solutions. The asymmetrically structured facades with their vast glazed surfaces, and the vertically shifted roof levels make both the building and the interior spaces characteristic.

The architects strived to design the building as functional as possible, and for the sake of the overall high architectural quality, their attention has encompassed even the tiniest details of the interior design. The reasonably linked spaces, the striking zone connections, and the enduring materials, as well as the furniture and fittings all create a delicate, yet cosy environment for the everyday life of the family of four.

An imposing stairway escalates to the entrance, which opens into a separate guest apartment and to a large contiguous social space with spectacularly elaborated elements. Not only the cityscape but also the well-maintained garden becomes part of the interior through the glass surfaces of the slightly divided breakfast room, dining hall and living room. The crossing line between the zones of different functions is seemingly blurred, and the borders are marked with distinctive attractive architectural solutions, however the consequent and delicate material usage unite these areas into a definite whole. The space is divided by the granite grey kitchen with a massive American walnut fronted wardrobe on its back, or by the brownish grey grained tiles pillar that incorporates the fireplace and splits the duplex living room into separate parts. The latter genuinely leads our eyesight up to the library and to the second living-room found on the first storey, making the different floors appear connected. The gallery is nevertheless the most spectacular point of the house, since through its large windows which open into more directions it provides a real terrific view. The first storey also accommodates the kid rooms and their separate bathrooms, as well as the triad of the bed-and bathroom and the wardrobe of the parents.
The cellar level which also provides space for the garages, is the place for hospitality. Here a wine shelf that is separated by a glazed wall that keeps the temperature steady and a pizza oven render a stylish design, whereas a custom-built sauna ensures a proper relaxing experience.

The clear interior design concept is also prevalent in the conscious colour choice: starting from the cellar the tones turn gradually lighter. The darker shades of the cellar flooring, the rough oak surfaces, the greenish hues, and the gold lining that highlights the individually lit wall recesses feature the modern version of the classical wine cellars. The ground floor is dominated by elegant greys and modest drabs, whereas beige, chalk-white and a few warmer tones prevail in the intimate spaces of the first storey. The sometimes bold, sometimes moderate match of the distinctive elements shows a truly delicate sensibility; all shapes, colours and materials integrate in a surprisingly natural way.

Location: Near Budapest, Hungary
Site Area: 950 m2
Usable floor area: 460 m2
Design Year: 2009
Construction Year: 2012


Kemenes Volcano Visitor Center by Foldes Architects

Though Hungary, located in Central Eastern Europe, is not rich in active volcanos, a large expanse of the country used to be volcanic some 5 million years ago.

However, this does help ensure good quality soil for high level wine production, one of Hungary’s largest export products.

The iconic Kemenes Volcanopark Visitor Center lays 200 km West of the capital Budapest, and has been realised following a national architectural contest announced in 2009 by the Celldomolk City Council, when Foldes Architects celebrated their winning entry from the competing 44 projects. The chosen plot for the center highlighted a flat area between the city of Celldomolk and the 5 million year old Sag Hill, a former volcano.

‘Instead of the straight translation of the brief, such as creating a volcano shaped museum building, we wanted to capture the true substance of the location.

According to our concept, the raw materials, the homogeneous grey of the concrete, the lava inspired colour of the corten steel, and the flue-like arrangement of the space, deliver the spirit and essence of a volcano’.
Laszlo Foldes, chief designer of Foldes Architects

Upon entering the vast interior of the building, the visitor meets two engaging attractions. At first sight the vertically open space captures the eye. Five floors above, a small window lets in a beam of light offering the ‘eruption’ point on the flat roof. On the opposite side, the industrial materials of the façade appear consistent with the interior: naked concrete walls, dark grey rasin flooring, steel staircase and corridor, and the corten steel cubes also visible from the outside. The varied height and location of bridges link the different sizes and positions of the corten boxes. These offer a range of functions, from screening rooms to interactive installations area, and present the fascinating history and typology of volcanos. To create a more refined interior, the exhibition texts are situated directly on the wall without any supporting board.

If you ever wanted to imagine walking through a cubist painting, this building is a great example of how it might feel to wander into Picasso’s Guernica. While passing below the red cubes, grey walls and bridges of the building, you have a real opportunity to comprehend the transience and vulnerability of human existence bracketed by such a formidable force of nature.

project name: Kemenes Volcanopark Visitor Center
location: Celldomolk, Vas County, Hungary
program: Specific museum building to represent the volcanic history of the territory
type: competition commission
area/size: 965 m2
year: design: 2011: completion: April 2013
cost: 1.238.000.EUR
client: Celldomolk City Council (Celldömölk Város Önkormányzata)
Project by: Foldes Architects
Principal Designer: Laszlo Foldes
Project Design
Team: Laszlo Foldes, Csaba Balogh, Orsolya Tatar-Gonczi
Installation design: Zsolt Vasaros
Contributing volcanologist: David Karatson
Exhibition concept: Gabor Sz. Szilagyi

Images: Tamas Bujnovszky
Text: Viktoria Szepvolgyi

KNRDY by suto interior architects

Conception as a restaurant: accommodating, but elegant, American style grill restaurant, which focuses on high quality steaks Design concept : using the given characters of the space, bring up the atmosphere of New York restaurants Location: in the heart of Budapest, in the bank district, with plentiful of restaurants, wine bars and cafes Expectations from the client: reflecting the high quality of the restaurant with the visual signs, it should be convincing, living up to the history of the old building,

The base for the design was a high headroom 250 m2 space partly encompassing the inner court of the more than a hundred years old building. The most spectacular of the restaurant is the guest area, it can sit 40 guests, with its great glass portals it allows us to take a look inside. From the street we can see the
cross-sectional view of the restaurant, through from the wardrobe, which is hidden behind the SICIS mosaic wall picturing a city view of New York, until the bar. Before entering we can take the pleasure by seeing the collection of chairs and tables from Tom Dixon, the red bar chairs designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and the classic lights by Artemide Tolomeo unusually placed above the leather benches.

Straight after stepping in we can take a look at the selection of meat displayed in the glass cabinet, then choose the ones for our taste to be prepared for our meal. Behind a glass wall, in the display kitchen, we can follow the professional work of the international chef team and the high tech oven glowing at 800 Celsius. In the kitchen everywhere are acid-proof surfaces, strong lighting and spotless cleanness.
The counterpoints of the light coming through the wide shop windows are the black and dark grey wall surfaces and the dark materials. The contemporary furniture look more elegant in front of the plastered white and brick walls, which are slackly left at their original states, as the lights are more extraordinary directed on them.

The unique atmosphere is created by the consciously used L iron structure through the whole of the restaurant. The functions of it however are different. Somewhere it is used just as decoration at other places as a holding structure. It is an emphasized element of the design, running from the wardrobe to the bar. We can discover the strong featured black iron straps on nearly all of the wall surfaces. Most dominantly on the restaurant’s central wall, as a fence in front of the photo of a New York fire
escape. The designers intensified the special, a little bit industrial feeling, with the unique geometric wooden suspended ceiling above the guest area. It is beautiful and it also has its functions to hide the ventilation equipments and provides possibility to fix the lighting.

The warm but clear oak parquet is surrounded by Mirage Herritage collection of gres tile surfaces bringing back the atmosphere of age old abbeys. Lights: precisely selected moderate ball lights. Somewhere one by one and somewhere placed in a group, completing with the more extreme Foscarin – Diesel rubber suspensions. It seems as they light the place without any effort. Their forms are just as important as their functions. They are the perfect visual elements. The nicest example of all is the Chasen by Patricia Urquiola in the hallway of the washrooms and the huge Tolomeo floor lamp shining at the entrance in front of the glittering mosaic wall. The restaurant awaits its guest with a bistro milieu, where chairs, upholstered benches and tables could be varied in many combinations.

KNRDY – american steakhouse and bar in budapest
interior design: suto interior architects
sqm: 250 m2
designed in 2012
built in 2012
photos: zsolt batar and balazs glodi