Architecture and inner spaces of the “Maison de la Paix” | March 2014

The architecture of La Maison de la Paix is remarkable for its organic esthetics and its interior design and decoration as well as  for its use of innovative technologies. Here is a small overview of this new architectural complex dedicated to international Geneva.

March 2014


Located at the intersection of the Avenue de France and chemin Eugène Rigot, in the heart of international Geneva, the "Maison de la Paix" is the most recent building to date in the so-called "Peace Campus" of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID).

An organic and innovative architecture

A high-quality architectural design and production was selected as a result of an international competition launched in 2008. Out of 60 submitted projects, the one selected was designed by Neuchâtel-based architect Eric Ott.

The selected project had to cope with several constraints, including the triangular shape of the plot and a footbridge to ensure soft mobility. Eric Ott's project, with its curves and transparency, is an organic and very diversified one. The six buildings of the "Maison de la Paix" will include as much as 94 different curves. Because of this characteristics, the buildings are now called petals, in reference to their shape.

Thanks to innovative technologies, the "Maison de la Paix"has recieved the Minergie label. All the buildings are connected to the "Genève-Lac-Nations" (GLN) network. Depending on the season, the lake waters will provide the buildings with heat or air conditioning. All the "Maison de la Paix" facades are covered with a double layer of glass. It lets natural light penetrate till the very heart of the buildings and ensures an optimum heat and noise insulation.

The second phase of construction is completed

The two first buildings which were completed by September 2013 are dedicated to IHEID. The second phase of construction for petals 3 and 4 is now completed, hosting the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). Petals 5 and 6 will be finished by next Fall. The proximity between the Graduate Institute, these organizations and others bound to come and settle in petals 5 and 6 should in the long term allow the development of a pole of excellence in the fields of peace and security.

Spotlight on the inner spaces of the Graduate Institute

In petals 1 and 2, The Graduate Institute has installed classrooms and meeting rooms, the library, the cafeteria, auditoriums and administrative offices. The inner spaces were created with an innovative spirit to give this place a strong identity. 

Artwork in everyday life: when art invites itself at the Maison de la Paix

Four installations and artwork selected by a panel of experts contribute to create attractive areas, and stimulate thinking, inspiration and discussion.

An external jury composed of 6 personalities, renowned in contemporary arts, identified about twenty artists and asked them to submit proposals for the "Maison de la Paix". Out of 18 participating artists, the projects of four artists were selected. Those of Monika Sosnowska, Peter Kogler, Matt Mullican and Katja Schenker. In addition to these projects, a work on paper by Swiss artist Franz Gertsch was offered by a generous donor.

A work of Monika Sosnowska was chosen by the Graduate Institute staff: a section of the front facade of a modern-style Polish building of the 60's. The artist, who lives and works in Warsaw, has modified it into a three-dimensional art installation conceived to be left freely floating in space. By recycling this piece of construction, Monika Sosnowska's work can be seen as the averment of a possible renewal. This work plays along with the contrast between real weight - the installation weighs 750 kg - and the assumed lightness, but also with the idea of a quote, as it happens to be a piece of a building belonging to a bygone era.

Located near the library and the Ivan Pictet auditorium, the installation of the Austrian visual artist Peter Kogler questions the occasional visitor as much as the daily student. The installation displays a honeycomb pattern applied to the glass walls and floors. These networks of cells - sometimes distorted - create destabilizing optical illusions that change the relation to the architectural reality of the place, whilst diverting and revealing it.

Californian artist Matt Mullican developed his project around the idea of signage. These images which evoke pictograms used in the contemporary world use primary colors to which the artist attributes a personal symbolism. Black for instance represents language, whereas red is the color of subjective and spiritual values and blue stands for the mysteries of the unconscious. Affixed to the cafeteria's plates, about forty pictograms call upon users' reflection and intellectual questioning.

The last installation, to be realized by Katja Schenker, from Zurich, will be set during 2014. Described as a 'nougat', this piece, will alternate layers of concrete and of various objects - trunks, rocks, etc. - thus offering a contemporary version of archaeological excavations.

Finally, the work of hyperrealist Swiss artist Franz Gertsch is located at the heart of the library. This large size xyloprint represents an underwood landscape in an almost photographic manner. Realized in an engraving technique known as "criblé", the print is rich with details and textures, while offering a meditative and timeless vision. 


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