Locational Factors Increasingly Central to Sustainability


Development in Budapest brings in environmental issues, relating to the city as a business and commercial center, and locational issues such the look and feel of the city, architecture, air quality, the provision of green and public areas and, of particular importance in the pandemic environment, transportation and the ease of access by public transport or cycle.

Agora Budapest

With regards to location, the LEED accreditation system assesses projects on the basis of development density and connectivity, brownfield redevelopment, alternative transportation (public transport access, bicycle storage and changing facilities, electric car parking and charging facilities), protection and restoration of habitat and maximum open space provision.  

Alternative system BREEAM has the stated aim of enhancing the social value of a project in a given area while mitigating its environmental impact. It awards points for encouraging “better access to sustainable means of transportation for building users. Issues focus on the access of public transport and other alternative transportation solutions that supply reductions in car journeys and therefore reduce congestion and CO2 emissions over the life of a building.”

Budapest has a number of business districts throughout the city, although no one defined central business district. Therefore, locational issues are an important part of the planning processes and, given the nature of the city, business complexes are expected to integrate into their surroundings by offering services, public squares and green areas that provide a mutual benefit to both the development itself and the surrounding areas.

“With regard to the development of, for example, an office project, the most important factors are seen as the proximity and variety of public transport, the different amenities within walking distance, the business nature of the district and also accessible green areas nearby,” comments Edina Hornok, head of sustainability at DVM group.

When it comes to transportation links, “the most favorable is a metro within 400 meters [of the project], however other fixed track modes of transportation are also advantageous,” she adds.

From the demand side, tenants and staff require offices that have direct public transportation access and are integrated into the urban infrastructure. At the same time, city authorities are looking to for developments that improve the economic environment, provides employment opportunities and upgrades an area.

Improving Design

Developers are reacting to these demands by improving the architectural design of projects that are located within the urban environment with proximity to residential areas and direct public transport links.

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 is seen as having had a disruptive impact on the way we live and move around and on the city, and society as a whole.

“This economic disruption will continue to be felt for some time. All the safety measures will become an integral part of our everyday life in the short-term and some elements will likely to stay with us for the long-term, as well,” says Valter Kalaus, managing director of Cresa Hungary.

“As a result, it is likely that changes to infrastructure, public transport, and public health measures will be introduced in case something similar happens again and to reduce infectious disease transmission. Cities will continue to thrive on the opportunities for work and play, and on the endless variety of available goods and services; however, from now on we have to think more holistically about cities as complex ecosystems,” he adds.

Asked how city and national governments promote and facilitate the sustainable development of the city and alleviate the health crisis, DVM’s Hornok argues that Budapest should maximize the quality of life for the inhabitants, and find a balance between pursuing growth and building local resilience.

Alleviating factors such as improving the cycling infrastructure and limiting car traffic at central areas can, at the same time, offer positive effects on carbon emissions too.

Livable Neighborhoods

Providing more livable, walkable neighborhoods, and quality green areas enhances the emotional and psychological wellbeing of inhabitants, and also helps improve air quality, which is a key factor in the fight against the pandemic.

An affordable, low-carbon public transport system is also an indispensable part of any sustainable city; however with the current health crisis, it can work only with the implementation of specific safety measures.

Developers are looking to source plots in locations with direct metro, tram and road links, although those are becoming more difficult and expensive to find and new development areas are emerging.

Talking about the recently completed the LEED and WELL accredited Nordic Light trio by Skanska in Váci út, major Hungarian architects Paulinyi & Partners describe how the project “prioritizes the human experience without compromising the environment and applies new ways of creating space in a busy environment. A landscaped garden the size of nine tennis courts provides a place for office users and the local community to connect with nature and adds open space useable for work, meetings or breakfast, while rainwater is used to irrigate the 20 trees and more than 1,100 bushes.”

Developers working with designers need to combine aesthetic issues, the contribution to, and impact on, the city in addition to meeting tenant demand.

“Architects and urban planners are the minds who hold the big picture of the city development and longer term goals. We are ultimately creating the built environment for future generations and should bear in mind that it is a long lasting thing. It is a responsible function. We have to be strong partners to developers and lead them towards creating a livable – and not just economically, but environmentally – and socially sustainable city,” concludes Ida Kiss, head of design at DVM group.

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