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Hungary shows us what can be achieved if the local community is involved in urban regeneration

Edited on

05 April 2017

New plans come to life for the Hussar Barracks in Szombathely, where a very active URBACT local Group has plenty of ideas...

Busy members of the Ulg, along with the staff of the Municipality in Szombathely, Hungarian partner of our network, have been actively working on the regeneration and reuse of the local Hussar Barracks. However, even the best ideas seemed to constantly bump into an obstacle: the status of protected heritage applied to the former military asset.

This condition was requested in 2001, in order to prevent the fragmentation of the area in smaller portions of territory, with the consequent risk that they could be sold for inappropriate purposes. What was meant to guarantee the privilege of respect and attention, both for the buildings and the land, now poses a series of challenges: ruinous remains cannot be demolished, no smaller properties can be created and its very difficult, given these premises, to imagine new functions for the area.

The Municipality initiated the procedure for the suspension of heritage protection in 2010, reiterating the request during the years, but with no success. However, Spring 2017 has brought a long awaited response: the protected status has been cancelled at least for the buildings in very bad shape, although the surrounding territory remains as heritage area. This means that any new construction must be adjusted to the existing buildings that are still protected, but at the same time it makes new plans possible.

The map gives an overall view of the change: the entire area is coloured, but whilst the fully protected part is marked with a dark blue, the lighter blue area is now ready for new challenges!


The Ulg and the Municipality have started to work on the new configuration on the meeting which was held on March the 24th. One specific form of reuse has already been chosen, whilst another is to be developed in the following months: certainly, one portion of the area will be opened as a parking space adjacent to a small park, whilst a path for pedestrians and cyclists will be created across the area in the second half of the year.

Although the latest news has boosted energy and enthusiasm, in fact, it certainly can’t be said that life was dull, for the Szombathely Urbact local Group, even in the preceeding months.

In November and December 2016, the Ulg founded a sub-group in order to target technical matters, with very productive and positive results leading to the above mentioned plans for the reuse of the former military territory. Suggestions were developed for the planned pedestrian-cycling path across the presently closed Caserne area, whilst imagining the reuse of a smaller, paved area as a parking place and deciding to cover the windows and doorcases of the abandoned buildings with wood. In cooperation with the Mayor’s Office and local politicians, efficient and rapidly-sought solutions were found for the realization, both in financial terms and thanks to the involvement of volunteers.

The ULG also had two meetings aimed at laying the foundations of the Integrated Action Plan. The results, which will serve as milestones for the Iap, are a Partner Network Map, a Problem Tree – Target Tree analysis and the identification of possible temporary forms of reuse.

Last but not least, a timescale was set for the Ulg, containing dissemination events as well as open days and site visits of nearby military assets such as those located in Varazdin, Croatian partner of the URBACT MAPS network.