Building of the Month (August)

This month our artist in residence Bill Hunt shares his interpretation of Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

Architect: O’Donnell + Tuomey (Ireland)

Size: 15,638m2

Project Cost: £19,100,000

Date: 2016


The project consists of two main elements, an original historic building and a new extension.  The site is part of the World Heritage listed, central area of Budapest.

The new build forms the new main entrance to the University which houses the CEU Auditorium, the CEU Library, research centres, classrooms, study spaces and central administration offices. The design ethos echoes Budapest’s heritage of courtyards and knits together the existing and new buildings with a connecting linear atrium rising seven stories.  The building is partly accessible to the public including the main auditorium and cafes.

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s design forms part of an overall masterplan for the university which has unfortunately been stalled due to various political and regulatory issues.


  • RIBA International Prize
  • RIBA Award for International Excellence
  • RIBA Award
  • Civic Trust Award
  • RIAI Award


  • George Soros funded the creation of the Central European University in his city of birth, donating c.£800m which is Europe’s largest higher education endowment.
  • CEU Budapest was effectively shut down by the Orban government in 2019, with the Washington Post commenting that “[CEU] has become the prime target of Orban’s campaign to dismantle Europe’s multicultural, tolerant liberalism and cement a culture that is unapologetically Christian, conservative and nationalist.
  • The main body of the Central European University is now housed in Vienna. The building in Budapest now an ‘outreach site’ housing research groups.