In Late October 2017, Steven Holl Architects in collaboration with Rüssli Architekten won the international design competition for the new Geneva Operational Center for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders. The Geneva Operational Center will provide work and social spaces for more than 250 MSF staff. Steven Holl Architects’ winning design utilizes colored photovoltaic glass that express the program’s flexibility while also providing shading and a large portion of the building’s energy.
Titled Colors of Humanity, the design has a cubic geometry that reveals its open-ended flexibility, which can be added onto in the future. In addition, all programs lend themselves to multi-cultural dimensions. The interior of the new Operational Center has criss-crossing passages, encouraging open dialogue and interaction between all who work in the building. The passages are lined with casual seating alcoves and other small-scale social gathering spaces. The collaborative and social areas have embracing curves. These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building.
“Steven Holl Architects’ project is the opportunity for MSF to integrate its core values like independence, impartiality, neutrality, altruism and dynamism in a challenging new architecture and project itself in the future.”
The Geneva Operational Center will provide workstations, meeting rooms, classrooms, and social spaces for more than 250 MSF staff, who support the activities of more than 6,500 field staff covering missions in 23 countries. The building will also house the “International Office,” the international secretariat of the MSF movement, which includes activities related to the “Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines” and various international projects piloted from Geneva, now occupying about 100 employees.
“Doctors Without Borders, MSF, is an inspiring organization. It is an honor to realize architecture for their Geneva home,”
On the facade of the Geneva Operational Center, photovoltaic glass in varying degrees of permeability will provide energy, shade, and the building’s bold colors. The curtain-wall facade will utilize 40% transparent solar cells that can be produced in a multitude of colors and allow for fully operational windows. The roof will house high efficient photovoltaic panels in addition to a roof garden. Combined with Genilac, the Geneva district lake water loop, the solar cells will raise the building’s self-produced electricity to 72% of the building’s operation usage.
The Geneva Operational Center will be located adjacent to the new Institute of Higher International Studies and Development, designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates; and the Terra and Casa Foundation housing for expatriates, designed by Bonnard Woeffray Architectes.
Steven Holl Architects and Rüssli Architekten were unanimously selected in the international competition, which included Pool Architekten & Mak Architecture, Sauerbruch Hutton, Emilio Tuñon Arquitectos wand Ruckstuhl Architekten, Blue Architects, and Consortium Sou Foujimoto with The New Talent Workshop.
The start of the project is planned for the Spring of 2019.
Article courtesy of Steven Holl Architects