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Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue

Hungary
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Lack of conservation of residential housing in the area inscribed as World Heritage

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Large scale reconstruction
  • Building heights and regulations
  • Demolition and inappropriate development in the buffer zone known as the ‘Jewish Quarter’
  • Inappropriate use of public areas and street amenities
  • Lack of conservation of residential housing in the area inscribed as World Heritage
  • Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure (increased traffic volume)
  • Management Plan Systems/Management Plan
  • Legal framework
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Housing
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount provided: 800 million HUF (ca. 2.7 million EUR) EU support for the “Street of Culture” project 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

March 2005: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission; November 2007, February 2018: ICOMOS Advisory missions; February 2013, April 2019: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 31 January 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, the summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/400/documents/. The State Party submitted updated information for the report on 29 January 2021. These provide information on measures implemented by the State Party in response to the decision adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019) as follows:

  • Reorganisation of state administration in charge united cultural heritage protection and building construction field within the Deputy State Secretariat for Architecture and Construction in the Prime Minister’s Office;
  • The Act on the protection of townscapes had been enforced, adopting the approach of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL Recommendation);
  • The World Heritage Act had been amended with a new implementing regulation Decree clarifying tasks of World Heritage management bodies in Hungary, introducing a new classification for the properties recognized as Highly Determinative Sites in Terms of Protected Urban Landscapes. It offers a possibility for the Prime Minister's Office to include in the Management Plan, the major urban landscape requirements;
  • The Government Decree on Planning Councils had also been amended, by which regional councils are being replaced by the World Heritage Councils as the responsible body to assess impacts of potential projects related to World Heritage in Hungary and by which such projects have to comply with rules set out in the Management Plans or the World Heritage Act, in case the property does not have a Management Plan;
  • A Management Plan containing a set of rules for all actors is under development in two phases, on the basis of several studies, including 3D-based visual impact assessments of significant scale developments in and around the property. Due to the sanitary situation, the Management Plan was not finalised as foreseen, nevertheless, the State Party continues to work on it without further delay;
  • Amendment to the "High-Level House Act" introduced the height limit up to 65 meters within Budapest;
  • A New World Heritage Design Guide had been developed, and its implementation is in progress;
  • Revision of the previous regulation regarding Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) that meet the ICOMOS criteria has been finalised in 2020 and will be submitted in 2021 for approval by the parliament;
  • An Information Module is being developed with an interactive, map-based, rotatable (3D) and graphical interface, providing online record of all relevant actors and information on developments;
  • For the National Hauszmann Programme (NHP) at the Buda Castle Quarter, no specific response was provided to the Committee’s request to halt all ongoing and planned reconstruction works and to consider developing an alternative approach to conservation and development. The State Party indicated that it ‘disagrees with the concerns about the NHP, in particular the risk of a progressive loss of historical authenticity’ and considers that the national value of the Quarter is ‘paramount’ with projects being undertaken to ‘reinforce national identity’. In the updated information submitted on 29 January 2021, the State Party emphasises the “ideological basis” of the NHP and commissioned the VERITAS Historical Research Institute to conduct a research on how the Buda Castle reflects ‘national identity’. This report was submitted with the updated information on the state of conservation of the property;
  • The State Party submitted more than 1,700 pages of annexes on projects including for the NHP, and also the MAHART Scientific Building, MOL Campus, and the Biodome and Museum of Ethnography parts of the Liget Project. All these documents were reviewed by ICOMOS and recommendations were transmitted to the State Party. Furthermore, the State Party has provided in the updated information the HIAs and Visual Impact Assessments for the former Red Cross Palace, the former Military High Command Building and the former Palace of Archduke Joseph, for review by ICOMOS.

From June 2018 to March 2021, the World Heritage Centre received nineteen third party complaints. These included details of the apparent complete demolition of the Radeczky Barracks. All information was transmitted to the State Party for clarification in line with Paragraph 174 of the Operational Guidelines. At the time of preparing this report, the State Party has not provided the World Heritage Centre with clarifications related to the third party information, transmitted since July 2020.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The State Party report addresses some of the recommendations of the Committee and those of the 2018 and 2019 missions, mainly in relation to governance and regulatory frameworks for future developments.

In terms of governance, the Prime Minister’s Office at the Deputy State Secretariat for Architecture and Construction will now be responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and heritage protection in general. It has started a review and deregulation of the Hungarian World Heritage regulations – but the context of the term “deregulation” is unclear. The Management Plan is still under development.

In terms of the regulatory framework, the 2011 World Heritage Act was modified to allow these governance changes, while the Act on the protection of townscapes was enforced in 2016 to adopt the HUL Recommendation approach. The High-level House Act was strengthened in 2018 to limit heights of building constructions to 65 metres, with the result that in 2019, three new high-rise building permission requests were rejected. An amendment of the Government Decree on Planning Councils to assess impacts of potential projects that relate to World Heritage in Hungary has been modified. The State Party assures that in the near future, Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) regulations will be strengthened, however, no details have been provided on what impact these changes will have. Nor have details been provided on the relationship between state and municipal legislation which has been a key issue in the past.

ICOMOS has reviewed submitted documentation (available in working languages) for the Budapest Eye, MAHARAT Scientific Building, Radeczky Barracks, Former Electric Power Dispatch Centre, MOL Campus building, Biodome and the Museum of Ethnography, submitted by the State Party as well as for other planned, ongoing or implemented major projects besides the NHP.

What remains unaddressed are the imminent threats to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property resulting from the large-scale reconstruction projects in the Buda Castle Quarter as part of the NHP (that was initially the National Hauszmann Plan (2014-2024)) combined with the cumulative impact of a number of developments, which have been carried out without the establishment of an updated Management Plan (requested by the Committee since 2015), and without integration with the city development plan, including building guidelines that have been reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.

It is recommended that the Committee expresses its utmost concern that the reconstruction work being undertaken as part of the NHP has not been halted nor have alternative approaches to the conservation and development of the Buda Castle Quarter been considered, as requested previously by the Committee. The State Party has highlighted its disagreement with the Committee’s concerns about the NHP, which aims to return the entire complex of the Castle and its neighbouring quarter to the form it had before World War II. The current proposed reconstruction is seen by the State Party to be recreating a national symbol. The State Party has emphasised the “ideological basis” of the NHP, and commissioned a research on how the Buda Castle reflects the ‘national identity’ of the pre-Communist era. The proposed transformation will require the demolition of most alterations undertaken during the Communist era.

The Riga Charter (Riga Charter on authenticity and historical reconstruction in relationship to cultural heritage, 2000) clearly outlines that conservation interventions should be minimal, and that reconstruction be considered only in exceptional circumstances, such as long-standing monuments lost. If the entire NHP is carried out, and the construction of the post war regime is reversed, this could create an illusion that does not correspond with historical reality. While the State Party in its report makes reference to the Venice and Riga Charters, in fact, the ongoing work is contrary to the spirit of these documents and the most recent international norms for conservation.

The NHP has been developed without consultations with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS. In spite of a request by the Committee, based on Advisory and Reactive Monitoring missions in 2018 and 2019, for the State Party to provide full details of the project for discussion before work commenced, details have not been provided and substantial construction works are ongoing.

The Committee has not ruled out the idea of some reconstruction being included in the project and stressed  the need for detailed proposals to be developed for the whole initiative, as well as for each of the buildings and spaces, based on a clear understanding of their fabric and value, as a basis for a dialogue with the Advisory Bodies on possible approaches, in order to identify interventions that respect the OUV of the property. Such a dialogue is essential and urgent.

The 2013 and 2019 missions have clearly identified relevant parts that should be retained among others the facade of the Ministry of Finance building, the remaining parts of the Military High Command Building, the interiors with the staircase in the north wing of the castle, public rooms, staircase in the southern wing, and the dome of the castle. What needs to be established is the degree to which buildings reconstructed in the post-war era bear witness to the past, in the context of the OUV.

Although the State Party has submitted some details on individual elements of the NHP, the level of detail submitted is insufficient to allow an understanding of the entire project. The HIAs are also not adequate and no account has been taken of the missions’ recommendations. The proposed demolition of the Ministry of Finance facade towards Szentháromság Square cannot be supported, nor can the entire demolition of the Military High Command Building, or the proposed reconstruction of the huge Palace of Archduke Joseph, unless further documentation and evidence can be provided beyond general plans and photographs.

This exceptionally extensive NHP could transform the Buda Castle quarter with a highly negative impact on the OUV. As has already recommended by the Committee, the project needs to be halted and reassessed to allow an understanding of how its main objectives might be achieved in a way that is compatible with the OUV. Such a re-assessment should be based on a Conservation Plan and underpinned by a detailed inventory and historical documentation. In the absence of such an approach in line with international norms for the conservation of the OUV of World Heritage properties, and with reconstruction work progressing, the authenticity and integrity of the Buda Castle Quarter is under threat.

The State Party’s commitment, expressed in the report, to fulfil its duties arising from the World Heritage Convention is to be welcomed.  Unfortunately, these commitments seem to have so far had no impact on decision making processes in relation to the NHP. Several buildings, such as Buzogány tower, the Riding Hall and the Main Guard building, have already been completed or almost completed, the Radeczky Barracks has been demolished according to third party information received, and work is on-going on other buildings, even though there is still no clear documentation for the project, no Conservation Plan, nor approval by the Committee on the approach that the work should take place in line with international norms and standards for conservation and reconstruction in and around a World Heritage property in order to protect its OUV. The State Party argues that its justification for the project lies in its ideological basis, as returning Buda Castle to its pre-World War II form will better reflect the ‘national identity’ of the pre-Communist era. Buda Castle is certainly of national importance, but it is also a major part of the inscribed property and contributes to its OUV. Any proposals for amending or transforming the Castle area must respect the OUV, including the property’s authenticity and integrity. The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies do not necessarily consider that these two values are incompatible, but to achieve an outcome that maintains the OUV while respecting national values will need discussion and collaboration based on open dialogue, clear documentation on what is proposed, a timescale that allows for such discussions, and major modifications to what is now proposed.

In the Decision 43 COM 7B.84 at its session in 2019, the Committee expressed its concern at what it considered to be a threat to the historical authenticity of the Buda Castle Quarter as a result of reconstruction works, and it urged the State Party to halt all ongoing and planned works, and develop an alternative approach to conservation and development, submitting these for review and approval before work re-commenced. It also encouraged the State Party to engage in dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies towards this end. Unfortunately, so far, these requests to halt interventions and engage in dialogue have not been responded to.

As a result, the state of conservation of the property has been and continues to be impacted highly negatively by recent large scale reconstruction and development works, including the NHP, which collectively and cumulatively diminish the authenticity and integrity of the property, and which remain on-going in spite of the serious concerns expressed by the Advisory Bodies and the Committee. It is therefore, recommended that the Committee acknowledges that the property faces ascertained and potential threats to its OUV in conformity with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines, and consider its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.49
Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue (Hungary) (C 400bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.84, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Welcomes the reorganization of State administration in charge of World Heritage properties’ protection at the national level and the designation of World Heritage properties as Highly Determinative Sites in Terms of Protected Urban Landscape, through enabling amendments to the 2011 World Heritage Act;
  4. Takes note of the State Party’s efforts to strengthen the planning framework through guidance documents and enhanced coordination of its relevant planning authorities;
  5. Also welcomes the consistent commitments and efforts made by the State Party to address urban development issues through legal and regulatory measures taking into consideration the approach of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL), notably through the 2018 amendments to the "High-Level House Act" limiting the height of all new constructions to 65 meters;
  6. Acknowledging that ex post facto law is prohibited in every constitutional state, notes that the amended “High-Level House Act” is not applicable for the one and only high-rise building construction permit issued before it became law and so the works on the 120-meter-high MOL Campus building located at a distance of 2 kilometres from the buffer zone in District 11 are ongoing;
  7. Also notes that the revision of the regulation regarding Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) to ensure that they meet the ICOMOS Guidance is planned in the near future and that 3D visual simulations will also be prepared, and urges the State Party to ensure its processes for commissioning HIAs, including Visual Impact Assessments and visual simulations address impacts on relevant attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and relevant views of the property as well as requests clarifications whether the revised regulation would be applicable to development projects already planned and ongoing;
  8. Further notes that the Management Plan could not be finalized as foreseen in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and recalls Decision 39 COM 7B.79, which requested the State Party to finalize, as soon as possible the Management Plan of the property including details of the protective measures and regulatory regimes and submit it to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  9. Notes with concern that as a result of the delay of the finalization of the Management Plan, construction works on a number of major new developments within the property and its buffer zone have continued or have already been completed despite the Committee’s request in 43 COM 7B.84, and reiterates its request to the State Party to submit all relevant documents including plans, drawings, and HIAs for all proposed projects within the property and the buffer zone to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies until the completion of the updated Management Plan for the property in line with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape;
  10. Also recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.84, notes moreover that the works relating to the National Hauszmann Programme (NHP) for the Buda Castle Quarter are ongoing, and that the state of conservation of the property has been negatively impacted by planned reconstruction and new construction, which may have a cumulative negative impact on the OUV of the property including its authenticity and integrity, and also requests the State Party to ensure that, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, any planned larger-scale projects in the immediate and wider setting of the World Heritage property be submitted to the World Heritage Centre as soon as possible, and that adequate time be allowed for thorough review of each project by the Advisory Bodies before any decision is taken;
  11. Acknowledging the efforts made by the State Party to corroborate the ideological basis of the NHP, also urges further discussion and close collaboration based on open dialogue between the State Party, the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre regarding the interpretation of the justification for the NHP, - namely the desire to return some elements of outstanding importance of national identity within the Buda Castle to their pre-World War II form while at the same time emphasizing that they are also a major part of the inscribed property contributing to its OUV, in order to determine:
    1. Whether this approach challenges the authenticity and integrity of the property,
    2. How the NHP aligns to prevailing international norms and standards of conservation and reconstruction,
    3. Whether there are contradictions between national objectives and international obligations to the World Heritage Convention;
  12. Takes note that the State Party has begun to comply with the requests of the World Heritage Committee and recommendations of the 2018 and 2019 missions, and defers consideration of the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger to its 45th session;
  13. Reiterates its request to the State Party to consider halting all ongoing and planned works at Buda Castle and invites the State Party to request, as a matter of urgency, and to initiate an (online) ICOMOS Advisory Assistance to develop alternative conservation approaches for interventions in line with international norms for conservation of the OUV of World Heritage properties, for development of the Buda Castle Quarter;
  14. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details of interventions that could impact the OUV are submitted with appropriate HIAs, in line with ICOMOS Guidelines, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  15. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.40

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.84, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Notes the reorganization of State administration in charge of World Heritage properties’ protection at the national level and the designation of World Heritage properties as Highly Determinative Sites in Terms of Protected Urban Landscape, through enabling amendments to the 2011 World Heritage Act;
  4. Acknowledges the recent efforts made by the State Party to address urban development issues through legal and regulatory measures, notably through 2018 amendments to the "High-Level House Act" limiting the height of new constructions to 65 meters;
  5. Also notes that the amended “High-Level House Act” is not applicable for construction permits issued before it became law and that in absence of relevant legal provision the constructions, such as the 120-meter-high MOL Campus building in District 11, are ongoing;
  6. Further notes that the revision of the regulation regarding Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) to ensure that they meet the ICOMOS Guidance is planned in the near future and that 3D visual simulations will also be prepared, and urges the State Party to ensure its processes for commissioning HIAs, including Visual Impact Assessments and visual simulations address impacts on relevant attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and relevant views of the property as well as requests clarifications whether the revised regulation would be applicable to development projects already planned and ongoing;
  7. Observes with concern that construction works on a number of major new developments within the property and its buffer zone have continued or have already been completed despite the Committee’s request in 43 COM 7B.84 to halt further projects for conservation, restoration, and new developments until the completion of the updated Management Plan for the property in line with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape;
  8. Notes with regret that so far the State Party has not complied with Decision 43 COM 7B.84, as works have not been halted on the National Hauszmann Programme (NHP) for the Buda Castle Quarter, and that as a result the state of conservation of the property has been and continues to be highly negatively impacted by planned reconstruction and new construction which have had and continue to have a cumulative negative impact on the OUV of the property including its authenticity and integrity;
  9. Notes furthermore that the State Party argues that its justification for the NHP lies in its desire to return the Buda Castle to its pre-World War II form so that it will better reflect the ‘national identity’ of the pre-Communist era, while at the same time emphasizing that it is also a major part of the inscribed property contributing to its OUV, and considers that this approach challenges the authenticity and integrity of the property and runs counter to prevailing international norms and standards of conservation and reconstruction requiring resolving contradictions between national objectives and international obligations to the World Heritage Convention through discussion and collaboration based on open dialogue, clear documentation on what is proposed, and a timescale that allows for such discussions;
  10. Regrets that the State Party did not respond to Decision 39 COM 7B.79 to engage in dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies with the aim of modifying the NHP so that it maintains the OUV while also respecting its pre-World War II attributes;
  11. Notes moreover that the Management Plan could not be finalized as foreseen in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recalls Decision 39 COM 7B.79, which requested the State Party to finalize, as soon as possible the Management Plan of the property including details of the protective measures and regulatory regimes and submit it to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies as well as Decision 43 COM 7B.84, which requested the State Party to halt further projects (in the whole property) for conservation, restoration, and new developments in the property and the buffer zone until a Management Plan integrated with the city development plan in line with the HUL Recommendation, as well as building guidelines have been prepared, and reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  12. Also regrets the apparent demolition of the Radeczky Barracks and the outlined proposal for the demolition of the Ministry of Finance facade towards Szentháromság Square;
  13. Also considers that the state of conservation of the property is impacted highly negatively by the recent, ongoing and large scale reconstruction and development works at the Buda Castle, which are not in line with international conservation norms for protecting the OUV of a World Heritage property, collectively and cumulatively diminish the authenticity and integrity of the property, and present ascertained and potential threats to the property, in conformity with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines;
  14. Concludes that, as a result of the considerations noted above, the property is in danger in conformity with Chapter IV.B of the Operational Guidelines, and decides to inscribe Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue (Hungary) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  15. Requests the State Party, to develop a set of corrective measures, a timeframe for their implementation, and a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2022;
  16. Reiterates its request to the State Party to halt all ongoing and planned works at Buda Castle and invites the State Party to request, as a matter of urgency, and to initiate (on-line) ICOMOS Advisory Assistance to develop alternative conservation approaches for interventions in line with international norms for conservation of the OUV of World Heritage properties, for development of the Buda Castle Quarter;
  17. Also requests the State Party to ensure that, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details of interventions that could impact the OUV are submitted with appropriate HIAs, in line with ICOMOS Guidelines, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  18. Further requests the State Party to adopt the recommendations of the 2019 Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, as well as the ICOMOS Technical Review in relation to the Budapest Eye, the MAHART Scientific Building, the Former Electric Power Dispatch Centre, the MOL Campus buildings, the Biodome, and the Museum of Ethnography;
  19. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2022.
Report year: 2021
Hungary
Date of Inscription: 1987
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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