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The organic architecture movement in Hungary grew in the late 20th century as a protest against the Brutalist architectural styles favored by the ruling Communist party. When current Prime Minister Viktor Orbán commissioned a landmark soccer stadium at the Puskás Academy, just outside of Budapest, he “was firmly committed to the concept of organic Hungarian architecture,” says Tamás Dobrosi, principal at local firm Doparum Architects.
The 3,400-seat Pancho Arena, which hosts league matches and tournament games, maintains the style of the athletic academy’s campus, which was master planned by Imre Makovecz, a prominent proponent of organic architecture. The 130,000-square-foot arena harmonizes with the natural environment, from the fan vaults that spread like tree branches to the use of timber as the primary building material.
Like a forest canopy abutting a clearing, the roof cantilevers 43 feet over spectators and is supported by glulam columns rooted into concrete piers every 20 feet with the use of 36-millimeter-diameter threaded rods anchored 5 feet into the concrete and affixed with synthetic resin. These primary supports arc up and fan out, with steel elbow-bracket reinforcements. As the supports extend farther from the piers, their depths increase to accommodate the accumulating cantilevered load.
Secondary intersecting beams connect to the primary beams via radial glulam crutches. The resulting hybrid timber-and-fan-vault construction is based on gridshell principles.