The story behind this hard-edged building in Hungary, a project that must be the most severe-looking visitors' centers the planet has to offer, begins, uh, 5 million years ago, when the land on which Kemenes Volcanopark sits was—wouldn't you know it?—an active volcano. While any and all explosive activity has long-since cooled, the soil here remains rich in volcanic tephra goodness, making it a hotspot for the production of wine, a hefty Hungarian export. In 2009, when Budapest-based firm Foldes Architects submitted its bid to build the Celldömölk region's architectural greeting to the world, it proposed a structure with subtle tie-ins to that geological history, an edifice to "capture the true substance of the location."
The architects write:
"According to our concept, the raw materials, the homogeneous grey of the concrete, the lava inspired colour of the corten steel, and the flue-like arrangement of the space, deliver the spirit and essence of a volcano." Four years and €1.238M (about $1.668M) later, the result is this collection of concrete and rusted metal boxes, a place as clean and utilitarian-looking as a slaughterhouse, with the pared-back minimalism of an empty, art-less museum. And yet it still manages to appear, well, pretty. Have a look: