Glove Factory Cultural Center, Budapest, Hungary 

The „Glove-Factory” Community House is located in Budapest’s poorest (8th) district – Józsefváros, with a predominantly Roma population. Amidst the pervailing poverty, the community center stands lika a splash of color and light, having its doors open until evening hours, attracting various age groups to come in and try any of the on-going facilities or workshops - from table tennis and computers to painting classes, women cooking clubs, and from Roma dances to Brazilian capoeira martial arts. The people who come are from mixed ethnic backgrounds, mostly Roma people for whom the center has been a motivation to explore their creativity offering creative free time for the youth and also for the adults.

Here is the way the architects remodeling the old factory to turn it into a community cultural center conceptualize collective space and how it can inspire the locals to appropriate and animate it (from

" The „Glove-Factory” Community House is located at the main square of Budapest’s poorest quarter. Situated in the 8th district of Budapest – Józsefváros - the Magdolna quarter is home to 12 000 people. This part of the city is way below the capital’s average, in any social or economic indicator. The rate of the uneducated (no primary school finished) the unemployed, ant the poor is very high. Drug abuse and dealing is particularly a serious problem, as well as street crimes in the neighborhood. In 40% of the homes there’s no bathroom, or toilet. A significant part of the population – 40% - is roma (gipsy). Regimes come and go, but this neighborhood was totally forgotten. People here are left without a choice.
In 2005 the rehabilitation agency of Józsefváros launched a program to stop that downward spiral process. The urban regenerating program aims at helping the families to catch up from the drawbacks inherited from generation to generation, and at preventing the reproduction of poverty and the exclusion from society. With the active contribution of the local inhabitants the programs help people to lead a more acceptable personal life strategy which serves their own prosperity as well. Besides the rent house-renovation involving the tenants, a very important element of that program is the construction and operation of the community house. This house will serve as the center of the social recovery and development.
Standing alone and deserted the old glove-factory building at 15. Mátyás square turns into a complex hosting alternative cultural and educational programs, and provides a nice, civilized environment for the people living in the neighborhood. Main characteristics of the house are openness and multi-functionality.
The 19th century factory building was discovered by the staff of the agency, and it immediately struck them as a future center of the new quarter. The building was first turned into a dwelling house, then a shoemaker manufacture in the socialist era. When found – probably in the last minute – most of it was empty, with only two families living in it. The family-house-like street frontage hid a fantastic courtyard. There were two practical spacious rooms in the inner annex. The street and the courtyard wings were annexed by booths and cabins of mixed structure.
As architects we first had to redefine the spaces of the „Glove Factory” so that it could appeal young and old in a shy, discreet way. The people are navigated inside from the open public space, through the open semi-public space of the courtyard. Introducing a new community house in the life of the local inhabitants is a tough nut to crack. The house simultaneously wants to attract people, convince them that there are a lot of important and interesting places inside and tries to mark the boundaries of social and communal activities, not wanting to be the victim of the uncontrolled street dynamics. The space-structure of the building does not want to force and press the people, it wishes to gradually build credit and trust.

The functional planning is colorful: the local rehabilitation agency plus a youth consulting office is to be seated here, and the bigger spaces will host a small community house. This building was practically born for this purpose. The agency’s offices are in the front wing, with direct entrance from the street, and from the courtyard, which links to the square with the gates open all day long, one can approach the consulting office in an intimate way. The courtyard, at the same time, functions as the real forefront of the community house.
Remaining parts of the building were cleaned, the skeleton and roof was fortified, and the necessary facilities were installed along with the new doors and windows.
What really are new in the house are the two staircases, attaching the spaces. These two staircases with their architecture and surface designate the symbolic spot in the neighborhood. The colors applied indoors, the painted raw concrete surfaces, the scumbled plaster creates a natural but resolute atmosphere. Glass surfaces ornamented with the paintings of a young roma artist working in the local school as a teacher.
Conserving and reanimating dominated the design of the new street front. Window and door structures are kept, sometimes narrowed, sometimes widened. The whole frontage got a thin smooth concrete mask, as the new gown of the building is to face serious challenges. The real inspiration to the design was the tension between the past and the future of the neighborhood.


On March 10th, 2011, Nadezhda Savova organized a Bread House Program at the Glove Factory Community (Cultural) House, where various people from the local community , from children to adults with disabilities predominantly with Roma background, came together to make bread and decorate it with the traditional Bulgarian bread symbol for house and family - an open circle (a house is never closed for guests or more babies) full of small bread balls for the number of family members. At the end, all shared the breads, indeed, like a family at this sort of collective house - the Glove Factory.