Dezeen Magazine

Steven Holl unveils winning design for Doctors Without Borders operation centre in Geneva

Steven Holl Architects is teaming up with Rüssli Architekten to create a new headquarters for a major humanitarian organisation in Geneva, which will feature walls of tinted photovoltaic glazing.

US firm Steven Holl Architects and Swiss studio Rüssli Architekten won a competition to design the new workspace for Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders – an organisation set up by a group of doctors and journalists in 1971, to aid the victims of disaster and war.

Called Colors of Humanity, the building will feature walls of green, blue and red tinted glass that also integrate photovoltaic panels – expected to meet a large proportion of the building's energy requirements.

This coloured glazing, coupled with the building's stacked-block formation, will express the internal layout.

"Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is an inspiring organisation. It is an honor to realise architecture for their Geneva home," said Steven Holl.

"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, the logistics director for the centre.

Photovoltaic glazing of different degrees of permeability will be deployed across the facade, offering shade to some areas and increased visibility in others. Around 40 per cent of the facade is expected to be made up of transparent solar panels, and additional cells will be set on the roof, alongside a garden.

The facility will also utilise a system called Genilac, which uses water from Lake Geneva for cooling and heating. This will allow the building to produce up to 72 per cent of its own electricity.

Walkways dotted with seating areas cut through the plan, to encourage "open dialogue and interaction" between the 250 members of staff who will work in the building.

Steven Holl Architects and Rüssli Architekten saw off competition from firms including Sauerbruch Hutton, Emilio Tuñon Arquitectos and Sou Foujimoto Architects to win the project.

Construction work is expected to begin in 2019, on a site next to the Kengo Kuma-designed Institute of Higher International Studies and Development.

Based in New York, Steven Holl's office is also currently working on a the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and has just completed a multi-building arts complex for Princeton University.