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New IOM Headquarters Building in Geneva

Invited International Competition

An exemplary building that conveys the identity and values of the organization to the urban realm. - Interconnected volumes form a well-proportioned and engaging scheme forming a respectful spatial dialogue with the existing environment.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a leading intergovernmental entity in migration management, decided to construct a new headquarters in Geneva. This initiative stemmed from the recognition by IOM Member States of the pressing need to expand and enhance the organization’s office space. Situated in the distinguished International Organizations area in Grand-Saconnex, the proposed building aims to consolidate approximately 600 employees and a conference center that can accommodate 300 delegates under one roof.

Vision of the project:

Migration movements worldwide have evolved from clear directional linearity into complex network patterns over the last decades. With this shift, the planning and implementation of support strategies has grown in multiplicity.

Consequently, the IOM’s human-centred work requires an equally human-centred work environment that absorbs the constant dynamics of adaptation and improvement, of knowledge collation, information flows, and practical collaborative implementation, in an exemplary building that conveys identity and values of the organization to the urban realm.

Spatial density and increased programmatic volume of the brief require a compact yet reactive concept within an urban pattern that promotes transparency, reactivity, and connectivity, and combines universal validity with local quality:

On the base of a robust grid, interconnected volumes form a well-proportioned and engaging scheme: its shifting steps set up a respectful spatial dialogue with the existing building while exposing flows, paths and views to the park area in the North. This new openness is supported by a 30m height limit, a stipulation linked to the chosen structural concept of exposed wood. Differently, louvered façade typologies help break down the building mass into smaller, human-scale entities for a sense of identity and connectivity.

The outlines of these components also determine the spatial allocation of the interiors:

A system of neighborhoods for individual and concentrated teamwork intersperses with substantial communal spaces for formal and informal meetings and social gatherings.

Vertical and horizontal connections interweave all communal spaces through the building physically and visually, creating alternative trajectories for planned and chance encounter, while open facades and terraces unlock views into the nearer and further natural environment – the park and the neighborhood, the city, the lake and the mountains beyond.

The building’s individual layers and volumes help emphasize a team-oriented, diversified internal atmosphere: Each unique in its situation within the building, the various neighborhoods bring different environments, views, and external extensions to their respective teams. Translated from a larger scale, this individual distinction of teams and spaces mirrors the varied scenarios in which IOM operates across the globe, and their equal integration into one comprehensive ecosystem.


Project: Competition IOM Geneva Headquarter
Status: Conceptional Design
Area: 15,000 m²
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Cooperator: CCHE Lausanne SA
Design period: March 2022 – June 2022

System of communal spaces

Flexible and adaptive interior spaces respond to the needs in agility and operability of a diverse global organization, where architecture serves as an evolving tool for a range of possibilities that change and grow with their users, in programmatic shifts that are not imposed from the start but discovered and adapted over time.

Eleven neighborhoods each offer a catalog of individual, efficient, and functional work settings that promote concentrated or team-based work. Beyond a closed-door environment, smart allocation of space allows for dynamically scalable interfaces at the intersection with communal spaces according to team needs.

Every neighborhood gives direct access to two communal zones on differing levels. The resulting double-height spaces interconnect the office spaces as open field platforms where interaction fosters innovation, exchange, and decision-making: they enhance awareness, communication and collaboration between departments, and add transparency to processes. Within the communal spaces, a variety of team spaces attracts differently composed groups for diverse purposes, activities, and alliances.

Prominently, library and auditorium spaces are conceived as connective stair elements that constitute new focal points, while additional circulation flows away from the cores promote a trajectory of informal movement, mobility, and exchange – a mirror of the maximized interconnectivity and constant advancement that resonates both with IOM’s institutional needs and humanistic ambitions.

Fluid transitions between interior spaces and terraces blur boundaries and extend the office environment into fresh air, introducing new ways of informal working in visual and spatial connectivity with the immediate urban surroundings. An accessible and programmable roof terrace offers social spaces alongside green roofs, opening up vistas into the distance.

It is these innovative spatial features that make the building in its entirety more than the sum of its parts: they stimulate thinking, interaction, and imagination in favor of the bigger picture.