770 new work places with offices, meeting rooms, reception, archives, conference rooms, a large conference room (divisible) for 600 people, lobby, translation rooms, services, storage rooms, cafe / restaurant for 450 people, a welcome / exhibitions area, a Strategic Health Operations Centre area, equipment rooms and computer labs, parking for 500 / 700 cars to be connected to the existing road network and parking lots. The project area is located in the international organizations area, on top of a hill overlooking the lake which view from the main building must be preserved. The project is developed along the only possible front building due to the existing constraints on the area and the demands of the client, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining a formal hierarchy between the new building and the architectural qualities of the existing building designed in the 60s by Tschumi and Bonnard, including the view of the surrounding landscape.
The formal idea of the project is to take some of the most striking elements of the historic building, in particular: the broken line of the large beams supporting the lobby double height ground floor, echoed in the shape of the form of windows; the volume of the prismatic council room connected to the main building by the low enveloping volume, a spiral-like porticoed connection path.
The broken line is the rib which generates and inspires the shape of the new building: its formal elaboration leads to a new configuration consisting of a 10 floors above ground body, slightly flared towards the landscape, and a court that gives light to the underground offices and services floors; the large hall for 600 people, like in the existing building, comes off as a cell from the old system and is structured into the park. The great room is an ovoid volume contained in a transparent box that relates to the level of the existing garden through slightly inclined planes. The prism of the existing building, maintained by the tentacle spiral, is proposed again with the soft language of contemporary forms: space becomes curved, the tentacle is dissolved into a transparent form within which the hall floats, the tentacle multiplies and it expands into floors anchored to the surrounding ground planes, which are also safety exits.
The whole project wants to offer a sort of genetic code taken from the old building: the front comes alive in glass facades recovering the ripple of the existing building but in a positive-negative game; the broken line is not represented by the windows box-frames, but the facade itself tilts back and forth with that particular form but always in different ways, to revive the babel of languages from around the world represented by the institution of the WHO.
All the paths are reconnected to the existing connections system; the entrance is on the most narrow tip of the building, on the same front of the entrance of the main building, occupying it for the entire double height as in the main building; above, always on the tip, is the independent area of the SHOC room.
The restaurant uses the roof of the low volume that closes down the court toward the garden to have an eating or drinking outdoor zone facing the park.
Great attention was paid to the vegetation, not only intended as an element of decorative completion but making it become an integral part of the architecture: the entire entrance facade of the narrow and high blade is a vegetable grid that has an important bioclimatic function for the building energy system but it brings the landscape component located behind the buildings to the "urban" front in the square where the main entrances of the institution are. An announcement of the green space of the park which is also architectural space.
In the park the selection of plants integrates with the important preexistences and adds new species that bring new colors and fragrances, compatible and even more coherent with the climate and the usability of the park.
At the main entrance of the new building an important and beautiful tree, a Gingko Biloba, was placed beside the doors as a guard: a wish for health understandable in all languages of the world.
The systems of the building have been designed in order to limit consumption and to use instead renewable resources as much as possible.
The low emissivity glass with solar control that compose the facades are divided into two bands, the lowest acts as a parapet ad it’s opaque to increase the thermal inertia of the building. In the south facade these bands are integrated with photovoltaic panels.
On the roof of the main building vacuum tubes solar panels have been considered, while the roof of the case containing the conference hall is used as a roof-garden. Both these covers are equipped with a rainwater recovery system, collecting water in an underground cistern.
Thermal comfort is guaranteed by a mixed system consisting of: ground source heat pumps; the Genève Lac Nations, a system that leads Geneva Lake deep water directly to several buildings in the same neighborhood, to cool or heat them; several vertical channels of mechanical ventilation distributed in central location within the building, leading air conditioning to all planes through the air handling units with heat recovery; ceiling cooling and heating systems.
Finally on the entire north facade is arranged a vegetable grid which, besides having the function of shielding the head of the building by solar rays, also has to give a signal of continuity with the park behind.
Designers - Arch. Paola D'Alfonso, Arch. Simone Calò
Consultants - Ing. Luca Argentieri (plants), Ing. Antonio Marano (structures), Dr. Elisabetta Sciò (botany)
Collaborators - Arch. Manuela Iorio, Arch. Vittoria Spizzichino, Stefano Trovato