Masterplan and Principles

Up until 2010 CEU has expanded, acquiring, fitting out, and occupying its premises without an overall campus master plan concept but rather based on immediate need and necessity to accommodate the growing student body.

The original campus consisted only of two core building, namely the Nador 9 building, with its iconic entrance, and the Faculty Tower. CEU gradually purchased the Nador 11 and Oktober 6. 12 buildings, and more recently, the Nador 13 and Nador 15 buildings. All these are now part of the redevelopment project, for which the master plan was developed in 2010-11.

With the addition of the School of Public Policy, the University is projected to grow, with correspondent growth in faculty, research and administrative staff. In addition, CEU plans to integrate into its main campus an important outlying academic unit, CEU Business School, currently located in Buda.

The Master Plan

The master plan provides for adding and updating classrooms and faculty offices, expanding and improving research space for doctoral students, creating common spaces for group work or quiet study, creating roof garden spaces, introducing new mechanical systems with monitoring possibilities and replacing old systems, improving library environment and technology, installing new infrastructure to enable a major upgrade in information technology and in general striving to create a high user and community comfort level university-wide. In line with CEU’s sustainability policy, the plan also calls for implementing building technologies and systems that are expected to reduce CEU’s energy consumption by approximately one-third.

O'Donnell and Tuomey Statement of Design Philosophy

  • Our strategy embodies the crossroads ethos of CEU, a meeting place for sharing and developing ideas.
  • Our vision is to provide an Open Campus that reflects CEU’s commitment to the values of the open society.
  • Our design team views Sustainability as an integral part of the design process.
  • Our analysis combines the various components of CEU, solving the ‘Japanese puzzle’ out of differentiated parts.
  • Our approach proposes a logical phasing process of demolition and decant, refurbishment and new build.
  • Our plan provides easy communication between interrelated adjacencies, clusters connected by convivial social spaces.
  • Our intention is to bring order to the whole.

Principles and Directions

An Open Campus

We have identified the opportunities to intervene in this downtown urban block, to make what is now a disconnected and disparate set of buildings into an Open Campus.
Our aspiration is to accommodate Central European University, to embody and extend its mission and promote a sense of integration and innovation.


The campus site is located in the city center block defined by Nador utca, Zrinyi utca and Oktober 6. utca.

We propose to open up connections between each of those streets; to make CEU buildings and facilities into an accessible campus which acts like an urban connector, a permeable University that reflects and promotes the ethos of the open society.


At present the old buildings and the various piecemeal additions work against each other. Access between the parts of the campus is convoluted. The existing complex is closed and confusing, with divided and insular buildings disconnected from each other and lacking dynamic exchange. Access from one building to another often involves going back out to the public street. Our design philosophy prioritizes interconnectivity as a design principle.


Subtraction and Addition

We have employed a process of selective subtraction and addition to transform the campus into a metaphorical crossroads. By a carefully considered “surgical” strategy we propose to link all existing and new facilities through a legible sequence of connected courtyards.

Incremental Development

Our proposal is based on a strategy of incremental development beginning with Nador 13/15. Library and Conference facilities relocated in Nador 15 will provide an international standard of accommodation for these crucial yet currently inadequate facilities. This first move will allow for subsequent phases of refurbishment and new build. The urban block pattern supports this phasing strategy. We have considered options for phasing and logistical strategies in a logically sequenced pattern of development.

Academic Clusters Connected

The design solution unites all of the departments, facilities and clusters within CEU into a clearly legible entity by connecting all elements. Glass-roofed courtyards will provide a series of social and educational spaces in a connected campus plan, characteristic of Budapest urban culture and appropriate to the ethos of CEU.


We propose landscaped gardens on the roofs of new and existing buildings where possible. These will form an accessible roofscape; a kind of ‘hanging gardens of Budapest’. The vegetation on these roofs will play an important role in reducing heat gain in the buildings and will enhance the environmental sustainability of the project. The well-tempered environment of the covered courtyards, combined with a practical approach to natural ventilation will ensure a low-carbon economical strategy for long-term energy conservation.

Phased Development / Linked Courtyards

An incremental demolition, construction and refurbishment strategy would be programmed to minimize disruption to CEU. Each stage in the incremental development will enhance the sense of interconnectivity between academic activities, leading towards an eventual Open Campus. Passageways opened up between buildings will reduce the existing number of confusing corridors and eliminate dead-ends. A clear pattern of circulation will enhance the legibility and “mental map” of the campus.