Modern-day science is transforming a historic Budapest site into a state-of-the-art playground. On June 1st, the Art Nouveau building of the former Paris Department Store will reopen to welcome families with the Future Park exhibition. This digital display marks the first attraction of a new entertainment center housed within the Andrássy út palace that has been out of operation for over a year. At mezzanine level, the artfully decorated Lotz Hall, featuring frescoes by renowned Hungarian painter Károly Lotz, is set to relaunch in the autumn as a French-style café.
Computerized cartoons will soon animate this architectural gem, as the former Paris Department Store turns into an innovative amusement park for temporary attractions. The newly opening Andrássy Entertainment Center (Andrássy Élményközpont) will be presenting the Future Park exhibition from June 1st, a highly interactive display by the Japanese teamLab corporation. Local TulipánTündér Produkció is in charge of this new entertainment complex.
Originally providing a location for a downtown casino during the 1800s, this prime site on the city’s grandest boulevard was extensively renovated in the early 20th century. The building was then home to the Art Nouveau-style Paris Department Store, which opened in 1911 to offer high-class shopping amid the height of Budapest’s belle époque. As part of the restoration works, the casino’s grand ballroom – characterized by the elaborate frescoes of Hungarian painter Károly Lotz of nearby Opera House fame – was masterfully preserved to become one of the shop’s major highlights.
After dominating Budapest’s shopping scene for decades (even as changing functions and interruptions dotted its long history), this fashionable downtown department store closed down in the year 2000, and the building stood abandoned for years. However, in 2009 the splendid structure was brought back to house the multi-story Alexandra bookstore. With the opening of the new outlet, the Lotz Hall on the mezzanine level was turned into a beautiful Budapest café, and in subsequent years this artful attraction became a highly frequented hangout.
However, in March 2017, the entire shop closed down due to the financial difficulties of the Alexandra group, with the Lotz Hall – which shared the same entrance with the bookshop – no longer accessible. Following months of uncertainty, the building will open again in a few weeks as an avant-garde place for amusement.
Having entertained families from Japan to Singapore and from Australia to France, Future Park will be showcasing a cornucopia of animated attractions in Budapest. Connecting the virtual world with reality, various activities boost creativity. One such feature is the projection of visitors' drawings onto the walls and floor, bringing animations to life and making them part of reality.
In another section of this digitalized display, giant balls change color and play different sounds when they are touched. As an additional feature, the audience can build their own little town atop a smart screen that is continually updated as the playful construction proceeds.
While the Lotz Hall won’t be accessible immediately after the building opens to the public, this artful auditorium should soon be filled with coffeehouse chatter again. According to the website of Andrássy Élményközpont, a Paris-style café will open this autumn, enticing guests to admire Lotz's sophisticated perspectives and dynamic representations of Greek mythology. Until now, there is no information if the café will be accessible to the general public or only to visitors to the entertainment center.
Budapest 1061, Andrássy út 31 Open: Daily 10am-8pm