Budapest Problem Statement
For the past decades Budapest has been a dynamically growing city in the Central and Eastern European region. Its development has brought densification to an already congested inner-city and unregulated spread to its surrounding greenfield lands. The increased car traffic and overuse of public spaces threaten population health and resilience against extreme climate conditions such as heatwaves and storms.
Ⓒ BUI (Original data: Budapest Development Concept: Analysis, 2011)
At the same time, the city’s Green Development Strategy still focuses mainly on renewing existing green spaces, not mentioning the creation of new ones. The policy is frequently ineffective, with authorities often removing trees without replacement in major central areas. Although the centre and its close proximity still have spatial capacity for new high-density development, there is an urgent need to shape the use of green spaces in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Budapest and its governance are currently under heavy scrutiny for the city’s increasingly unliveable state. The green space coverage per capita only attains an average of 6 SM/person for the entire city. This number is significantly lower in the inner-city area with 1.7 SM/person, and an intolerable 0.6 SM/person in the central VII. District (V. Kerület Önkormányzat, 2017; VII. Kerület Önkormányzat, 2015). These figures contrast starkly with the 9 SM minimum suggested by the WHO.
Due to the lack of green spaces in the inner city, urban heat islands appear in the summer months that heavily affects inhabitants’ health and quality of life. Stormwater management suffers from a lack of permeable surfaces, which have been undervalued economically, functionally and aesthetically in the past decades. This generates regular floodings on the of built infrastructure after heavy rainfalls. The inner-city of Budapest is congested with traffic, as the alternatives of public transport and cycling are not widely accessible. The CO2 exhaust over the city also elevates health problems to alarming levels. At times it is highly unpleasant to walk along roads and even small streets.
As a result, Budapest citizens face obesity and one of the highest mortality rates caused by respiratory diseases in Hungary. Overall, the country’s population has one of the worst levels of cardiac health in the World (Gero et al., 2015; KSH, 2016). Not surprisingly, there is a growing demand for a well-connected cycling infrastructure (Tenzer, 2018) as well as well-maintained and vegetation-rich public spaces. We strongly believe that the undervalued inner-city plots in Budapest carry vast untapped potential to become the living lungs of the city.
In 2019 January BUI together with our videography media partner (Rawfilter) visited a bar in the centre of Budapest and asked citizens to share their opinion on the living conditions of the city. The specific questions were: (1) What is your opinion of the cycling network of Budapest? (Do you cycle? Would you cycle?) (2) What is your opinion of the environmental design of the streets of the inner city? (In general, would you like more green areas?) (3) Would you use outdoor fitness parks in your surroundings? (4) Do you think that this topic is out there? (eg. in the media) (5) In your opinion, how much do the city representatives care about livability issues?
This 2 minutes video gives you a glimpse into the problems citizens of Budapest and of other global cities are facing. Take a look and give us a feedback:
– Budapest V. Kerület Önkormányzata (2017) Településfejlesztési koncepció és integrált településfejlesztési stratégia: Megalapozó vizsgálat. Available at: http://www.belvaros-lipotvaros.hu/_user/browser/File/hirdetmenyek/2017/MEGALAPOZ%C3%93%20VIZSG%C3%81LAT%20-%20v%C3%A9gleges.pdf [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018].
– Budapest VII. Kerület Önkormányzata (2015) integrált településfejlesztési stratégia: Megalapozó vizsgálat. Available at: https://erzsebetvaros.hu/download.php?file_id=11958 [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].
– Gero K., Eshak E.S., Ma E., Takahashi H., Noda H., Iso H. (2015) Health Disparities in Ischaemic Heart Disease Mortality in Hungary From 1970 to 2010: An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis. Journal of Epidemiology 25/6, pp 399-406.
– KSH (2016) Magyarországi térképek – Népmozgalom. [online] Ksh.hu. Available at: http://www.ksh.hu/interaktiv/terkepek/mo/nepmozg.html?mapid=FEA004 [Accessed 8 Dec. 2018].
– Tenczer, G. (2018) Már nem a bringás az utca négere?. [online] Index.hu. Available at: https://index.hu/kerekagy/2018/12/02/kerekparosklub_kurti_gabor_kerekparozas_bekepipa/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]
© Budapest Urban Ideals 2019