The renewal of the Palatinus Bath

Palatinus Lido’s emblematic entrance building from the late 1930s was operated only in the summer months as a changing room building. The developers’ request was to create a new all year round operating thermal bath in the heritage protected building.

The building is located in the heart of Budapest, on the Margaret Island. It was praised when it was built and until today it’s one of the few important modernist public buildings in Hungary. The middle part of the building contained a peristyle with the cash registers flanked on both sides by a three story wing containing the changing rooms. After the reconstruction the building is now split into two functional parts. The northern part contains the unheated spaces which serve the lido in the summer months. Here the original conditions have been restored preserving the original structure. The southern part of the building is where the new thermal bath and its supporting functions have been placed which operate throughout the whole year.

The existing building had been altered and fitted with additional structures throughout the last 70 years. The first task was to remove all these unnecessary alterations. It was also crucial to research the conditions and the zeitgeist in which the original building was conceived. The most difficult challenge was to insert the new functions into the original structure. Our task was to understand the thoughts of the original architect, the spirit and values of the building and execute the functional change in a contemporary way which fits into the characteristic protected building. The longevity of a building is taken for granted only if it can adapt to the changes of time. It is this delicate balance of new and old which makes these kinds of reconstructions exciting.
The new thermal bath found its place in the southern wing by converting the two lower stories of changing rooms into one generous double-height space while also retaining the geometry of the structures.
While adhering to the various technical requirements (ventilation, strengthening of the existing structure, fire protection), it was also crucial that the protected heritage of the building is not harmed.

The existing conditions were dreadful, the bauxite concrete structure has been degrading due to moisture and was replaced and patched up in many places. The surfaces, doors, windows and the façade had been altered. Since the thermal bath has different heating and ventilation requirements the southern wing had to be rebuilt. The outer appearance and the inner structure is original but the building elements adhere to current requirements. It was possible to reconstruct the original painted brick façade and the inner slim pillars as well.

Originally the building didn’t have any heating. Today the Palatinus Lido uses the 69°C warm thermal water extracted from the “Magda” well to fill up the pools. This water is cooled down to 36°C and the rest of the heat energy is utilised for the heating of the building. Every technological system is installed in the building to take advantage of the thermal energy. The facility also has a cold water well, its water is used as drinking water.