Government to build tunnel under Kossuth square

July 21, 2016

tunnel
The office building on the left will be demolished. Source: Index.hu

Anyone who has ever visited the Hungarian parliament knows the empty building overlooking Kossuth Square, the site of numerous protests over the past few years. Housing the former offices of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, it was built in the 1970s and had one of the best views in the capital. Used only for shooting sci-fi movies, its crumbling walls and empty halls are a stark reminder of Hungary’s communist-era architecture.

The government has been planning to rebuild the offices for a long time but it could only acquire the building last year, due to legal challenges, at a price of HUF 1 billion (USD 3.6 million). A few weeks ago the decision was made to demolish the building and erect a new one to house the office of the members of parliament, to be linked to Parliament via an underground tunnel.

According to the government press office, the tunnel will have two functions: first, it will help protect the building by enabling security screening to take place farther away from parliament. With the existence of the tunnel and the underground entrance of the visitor center (already in use), entry above ground may even be avoided due to security reasons, they added.

The tunnel will also make life easier for MPs and their assistants. With the tunnel in place, they won’t have to undergo a second security screening when entering their offices or going back to Parliament.

There is no estimate yet on how much the tunnel or the new office building will cost, but according to Index, one thing is for sure: Kossuth square is one again to undergo construction as the tunnel is to be built by digging rather than drilling, at least according to Tamás Wachsler, director of Imre Steindl Program (responsible for the reconstruction of parliament and its surroundings).

This means Kossuth Square will likely be cordoned off for an indefinite period (just in case anyone was planning on holding a demonstration there in the lead-up to the 2018 general election-ed.)