Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) has selected Steven Holl Architects in collaboration with Rüssli Architekten as the winners of an international competition for the design of their new Geneva Operational Center, beating out proposals from Pool Architekten & Mak Architecture, Sauerbruch Hutton, Emilio Tuñon Arquitectos & Ruckstuhl Architekten, Blue Architects, and Consortium Sou Foujimoto with The New Talent Workshop.
Clad in an innovative colored photovoltaic glass facade system, the energy-efficient building will provide flexible work and social spaces for more than 250 employees.
Nicknamed Colors of Humanity, the project has been designed to foster interaction, with crisscrossing circulation paths lined with seating alcoves encouraging community conversation and small-group collaboration. These alcoves, along with other small-scale social gathering spaces, are finished in sinuous curved forms, giving off a sense of embrace.
“These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building,” explain Steven Holl Architects.
“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,” added Mathieu Soupart, Logistics Director for the MSF Operational Centre Geneva.
The building’s signature facade features photovoltaic glass in varying degrees of permeability to reflect different types of interior spaces and to provide energy, shade and vibrant color. The curtain wall will utilize 40% transparent solar cells that can be produced in a range of colors, sitting within a flexible framework that allows for fully operational windows. The system has also been designed with maximum open-endedness to allow for seamless future expansion.
Photovoltaic panels will also wrap onto the top of the building, where a roof garden will also be located. Adding to the Geneva district Genilac lake water loop system, the solar cells will allow the building to produce up to 72% of the electricity required for operation.
“Doctors Without Borders, MSF, is an inspiring organization. It is an honor to realize architecture for their Geneva home,” said Steven Holl.
The Geneva Operational Center will be located adjacent to several other projects by high profile architects, including the new Institute of Higher International Studies and Development, designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates and the Terra and Casa Foundation expatriate housing by Bonnard Woeffray Architectes.
The project is expected to begin construction in Spring 2019.