steven holl has been selected to build an operational center for humanitarian organization doctors without borders, holding off competition from sou foujimoto in the process. located in the swiss city of geneva, the design utilizes colored photovoltaic glass that seeks to express the project’s flexibility, while providing a large portion of its energy. the structure will provide work and social spaces for more than 250 staff. construction is expected to get underway in spring 2019.


the design utilizes colored photovoltaic glass
image courtesy of steven holl architects / rüssli architekten (also main image)

 

 

developed in collaboration with rüssli architekten, steven holl’s design for doctors without borders, or médecins sans frontières (MSF), is titled ‘colors of humanity’. the scheme is based on a cubic geometry that allows the building to be expanded in future. the eye-catching façade comprises photovoltaic glass in varying degrees of permeability, which will provide both energy and shade. the curtain-wall will utilize 40% transparent solar cells, which can be produced in a multitude of colors and allow for fully operational windows.


the structure will provide work and social spaces for more than 250 staff
image courtesy of steven holl architects / rüssli architekten

 

 

meanwhile, the roof houses highly efficient photovoltaic panels in addition to a garden. in total, the building aims to produce 72% of its electricity requirements. internally, the scheme is connected with criss-crossing passages that encourage constant dialogue and interaction. these circulation routes would be lined with seating alcoves and other small-scale gathering spaces.


the scheme is based on a cubic geometry that allows the building to be expanded
image courtesy of steven holl architects / rüssli architekten

 

 

the plans include workstations, meeting rooms, classrooms, and social spaces for the geneva-based employees who support the activities of more than 6,500 field staff in 23 countries. ‘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,’ states mathieu soupart, logistics director for the MSF operational centre geneva. ‘doctors without borders, MSF, is an inspiring organization,’ adds steven holl. ‘it is an honor to realize architecture for their geneva home.’


watercolor illustrating the building’s lobby and reception
image courtesy of steven holl


the project is titled ‘the colors of humanity’
image courtesy of steven holl


floor plan / level 0
image courtesy of steven holl architects / rüssli architekten


scale model indicating the scale of the building and its surroundings
image courtesy of steven holl architects / rüssli architekten

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  • As a regular donor to the important work of Doctors Without Borders, I would like to know if the star architect uses his knowledge to build a low-cost building for a reduced fee. Because I donate for the urgently needed aid projects and not for design headquarters.

    Stephan says:
  • @Stephan
    Get off your high horse? Do you realize this headquarters is going to fully support the cause? Certainly cars can’t be provided gasoline without even a gas station. A far-fetched analogy, but surely you get my point.

    “the plans include workstations, meeting rooms, classrooms, and social spaces for the geneva-based employees who support the activities of more than 6,500 field staff in 23 countries.”

    E says:

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