Get insights into Veszprém-Balaton 2023, the future European Capital of Culture. What is this region about? Its special charm is in its small villages with unique experiences. In this post, I begin exploring the new location from its culinary landmarks with the local architect Daniel Magyar)

Veszprém-Balaton 2023

It was really exciting to have a nice online chat with Danny about the transformation of places and people’s experiences after our last’s year collaboration in Plovdiv with the team of Veszprém-Balaton 2023. A lot has changed since then, and now old issues of local communities require even more new ideas.

Balaton bars Veszprem 2023 at Plovdiv 2019 1
Trying out Balaton Bars by Veszprém-Balaton 2023: The EU Plovdiv School of Participation, December 2019

Danny, architecture seems to be quite a specific art with numerous restrictions on all the levels: safety, finances, politics and culture. In your opinion, how the architect can combine creativity and self-expression?

building a school in south africa daniel magyar veszprem 2023 2

– This is the old question of the form vs function 🙂 I guess architecture is more of a service for the customer than a creative activity that allows for self-expression. We have to give shape to the customers’ unspoken wishes. My personal impression is that most people don’t exactly know what they want. So, we have to sense the blurry picture in the customer’s head and give form to that on the highest qualitative level we can.

cultural capitals at eu plovdiv school of participation 1

How does it work in reality?

– In practice, it’s all based on three aspects that determine the “borders” of the playroom of an architect’. The function is the very first thing the architect should keep in mind. There’s no worst situation than a building that can’t be used for a purpose. Keeping the “image” of the location as harmonious as possible is another important feature.

Every city has visible and invisible regulations expressed in official laws, technical norms and unwritten rules manifested in the forms of the buildings, their sizes, colours and even the materials of the facades. Affordability is a further essential point. Well.., we end up being specialists that balance the customers’ naive imaginations and their limited budgets. In general, this is the most creative part of the project.

Veszprem 2023 presentation by daniel magyar in austria student years
Architect Daniel Magyar: What can an architect do to create community? Austria, 2017

Your recent speech presented in Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria ‘What can an architect do to create community?’ seems still to be relevant to many residential areas globally…

– Right, architecture really can offer spaces for meetings, places for actions and environments for new experiences. For my master’s diploma, I analyzed the case of the small village Grosskirchheim in the Austrian Alps.

A bunch of people living NEXT to each other instead of WITH each other. No trust, collaboration and even adequate communication. Instead, there are bad feelings based on unspoken regulations. It’s called “tradition” created ages ago. Like, “we hate family X because we had always hated them”.

This was caused by a small issue that now no one clearly remembers, but nobody attempts to change this perception too. Such ‘traditions’ are solidified because people pass them from generation to generation.

Veszprem 2023 planning the tree in plovdiv daniel magyar with the team of school of participation 2

And how a way out can be found?

– The whole subject is giant and you can get more interesting and feasible ideas about creating a community in one of the best books on the subject by Gerald Hüther: Kommunale Intelligenz (in German). But in a nutshell.

First of all, young people have to find out what they are passionate about and what they are good at, and practice it as much as possible. Gradually, such mass self-expression will influence the educational system, and the new skills will also bring a new sense to the community. Without trying something new, people limit the development of the area, and they often excuse this with traditions.

Second, the gap between young and old has to be closed too. Life experiences of the old should be connected somehow with the energy and momentum of the young. When the old tradition meets a fresh way of thinking this produces positive synergy.

Common targets can connect people through events that help them to feel that they belong together to the same place. It’s how a cultural and informational exchange happens. This increases trust and changes the way we see each other. Something “hard” will be “softened”.

Images: Daniel Magyar, Katinka Hasprai and Tatyana Garkavaya

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