Buildings and Architecture

International organizations need buildings for their offices and meeting rooms. The facilities built to host these organizations since the 1920s have profoundly transformed the urban landscape of Geneva, a development that has been consistently supported and facilitated by the local and national authorities. 

 

The architectural history of international organizations in Geneva

This book retraces the various stages leading to the construction of the buildings that make up the city's international quarter today.
The turbulent history of office architecture writ large is embedded in the canton's small territory, featuring, from the start, a quarrel about modernity, instigated by Le Corbusier over the Palais des Nations. From the austere stone building inaugurated in 1926 for the International Labour Organisation to the glass bubbles occupied by the Maison de la Paix since 2014, this architectural journey is recounted for the firt time here.

International Geneva, 100 years of architecture
by Joëlle Kuntz

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Key issues & challenges

Switzerland faces a number of policy challenges with regard to the international organizations it hosts, most of which currently occupy buildings dating from the 1960s and 1970s. This older building stock has suffered significant deterioration due to intensive use of workspaces and meeting rooms, combined with a lack of regular renovations. Moreover, competition between countries has increased considerably in recent years, heightening the risk of international organizations deciding to relocate away from Geneva.

In response to these challenges, the Federal Council, the Canton and the City of Geneva in 2013 adopted a joint strategy for the future of international Geneva that focuses on meeting international organizations’ needs in terms of real estate. Keeping the existing infrastructure in good working order is essential to maintain Geneva’s role as a centre of global governance and multilateral diplomacy.

The Swiss government supports construction projects initiated by international organizations through preferential-rate loans administered by the Building Foundation for International Organizations (FIPOI). These loans are repayable over 50 years for new buildings and 30 years for renovation works. FIPOI is a private foundation established by the Canton of Geneva and the Swiss Confederation and tasked with awarding and monitoring loans to international organizations.

To date, the Canton of Geneva, the Swiss Confederation and the City of Geneva have granted loans totalling approximately 680 million Swiss francs for various international organization-led renovation and construction projects, which are slated for completion in the next few years.

In addition to this loan programme, local and national authorities work together to support international organizations by delivering top-notch public services, particularly in the areas of urban planning, transportation, energy and safety.
 

Find out more about the contribution of the Canton of Geneva to International Geneva on www.ge.ch

 

Current projects
  • Building-ONU1
    UNOG: Renovation of the Palais des Nations and new building
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  • Building-OIT1
    ILO: Renovation of the largest public building in Switzerland
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  • Building-OMS1
    WHO: Renovation of the headquarters and new building
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  • Building-UIT1
    ITU: New headquarters
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  • Building-IHEID1
    Cité internationale du Grand Morillon: Imagining the International Geneva of tomorrow
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  • Building-CM1
    Cité de la Musique: Bringing music to the Garden of Nations
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Recently achieved
  • Building-FICR1
    IFRC: New headquarters
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  • Building-Sante1
    Global Health Campus
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  • Building-OMC1
    WTO: Renovation of the headquarters and new building
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Building International Geneva: interviews