Extension of the WHO Headquarter Geneva
- by Yannick Troubat
The WHO headquarter stands on the heights of Geneva, the municipal boundary of Prégny-Chambésy and Grand Saconnex, in the neighborhood of international organizations near Geneva-Cointrin Airport. Today it consists of ten buildings of very disparate quality. After 58 years on the current site of its headquarters in Geneva, WHO has undertaken an extensive renovation project. The purpose of the competition is to build a new building in which the staff will be transferred during the renovation, without disruption to the staff and operations of WHO.
Extending and uptading who’s universal identity
The New Building is set up perpendicular to the Main Building in an extension of the winding movement designed by Jean Tschumi. It comes in the form of a simple shape with a surprisingly complex plasticity: the glass façades are screens on which are superimposed images of living interiors, reflections of the WHO garden and of the Geneva landscape. Thus, the New Building is a contemporary intervention that extends and updates the universal identity of the World Health Organization.
By orienting the view to Lake Geneva, the city of Geneva, the Alpine Massif and Mont Blanc chain, the implementation of the New Building contributes to further anchor the WHO headquarter in the great Lake Geneva landscape. Furthermore, the New Building intends to participate in the Park of Nations development project. In the meantime, the reconfiguration of the plaza offers a simple and unitary space to give an easy understanding of the WHO headquarter. The new WHO esplanade also becomes a singular public space at the crossroads of the Park of Nations.
The New Building finally absorbes the WHO Garden, the Park of Nations, Lake
Designing space for flexibility
The structure of the New Building is similar to that of a bridge. Three cores support a roof beam to which are suspended the slabs. This structural principle releases the ground floor. It also eliminates the usual constraints related to the superposition of different structural frames. This independence of the superstructure levels (conference space, offices, restaurant, room shoc) and infrastructure (technical premises and parking) optimizes the structural frames and maximize opportunities for interior design. The facade of the New Building is mainly glazed and freed of any structure, which allows workspaces to benefit from maximum light intake individually and manually adjustable with curtains. The frame of the glass facade of 1.35 meters provides optimized partitioning flexibility for offices.
Clarifying functions and access
The New Building is connected to the Main Building by an enclosed, covered walkway on the ground floor. The reception area of the Main Building is thus extended by a versatile space for exhibition and reception. In the manner of an ambulatory, it stretches the entire length of the ground floor and is largely opened onto the garden. The ground floor and the second floor of the New Building welcome the most attented functions: the restaurant and the conference space. To be very accessible, the «shoc room» is located on the third floor. The upper floors are dedicated to offices in multiple configurations according to WHO requirements. The underground is dedicated to the kitchen, archives and parking areas.
Optimizing people flows
On the ground floor, the versatile space used for exhibition and reception and the cafeteria and restaurant are available to anyone who have been allowed in the Main Building. The conference space can operate on the same principle or using an accreditation checkpoint. The upper floors are accessible by three cores of vertical circulation including elevators and emergency staircases. Access to these levels can be controlled by ID card. All indoor areas of the New Building including the terrace and its garden are accessible to disabled people.
The New Building offers flexible work spaces according to WHO requirements. The project allow for traditional office configurations, landscaped, open-space or hybrid. In each case, the New Building offers spaces with light and smothing atmosphere encouraging human interaction and collaborative attitude using new technologies.
architect: Yannick Troubat | team: Yannick Troubat, Quentin Sommervogel, Sophie Meyer, Joanna Litzler, Etienne Gozard | status: Competition (2014) | competition: Extension of the WHO Headquarter Geneva | visualizer: Studio | scale: 21.000 m2 large | types: education, headquarters, institutional, research center | views: 1.567