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Renovations set to transform International Geneva

Cranes and construction workers have become commonplace in International Geneva, where around a dozen major renovation and new building projects External linkare underway for international organisations based in the Swiss city. (RTS/ 

Over CHF2 billion ($2.05 billion) is being invested over the next ten years in the district, which is home to 37 international organisations and 380 non-governmental organisations. Much of the finance consists of federal and cantonal loans. 

The biggest chunk is for the historic United Nations Palais des Nations building, which is being renovated at a cost of CHF836.5 million – half financed by interest-free loans from the government and canton Geneva. A new building is also being constructed in the UN complex for 700 staff.

At the World Health Organization (WHO) a nine-storey office block is replacing an ageing wing in a style that mirrors the original Sixties design of Swiss architect Jean Tschumi. Since 2015, construction has also been underway on Campus Santé, a new building to house 1,500 staff from the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and GAVI, a global vaccine alliance.

In the same neighbourhood, the imposing International Labour Organization (ILO) headquarters, built between 1969-1974, is also getting a major facelift. Asbestos is being removed and the interiors are being remodelled. Near the ILO, a major building site is due to sprout for the “Cité internationale du Grand Morillon” – a new headquarters for Médecins sans Frontières, as well as Graduate Institute student lodgings and apartments for international staff.

Mobility investment

The Red Cross family is also getting a makeover. The historic Carlton headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is being refitted to ensure it meets modern safety and energy standards. Nearby, work on a new headquarters for its sister organisation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, began in 2016.

To top it all, a stunning new concert hall complex known as the “Cité de la Musique” is set to open in 2022 next to the Place des Nations square. The modern pointed glass and concrete building will house four concert halls, including a 1,700-seater octagonal philharmonic hall.

The local authorities are also investing CHF500 million by 2025 in mobility for the international district. This will include an underground road tunnel from the nearby motorway, an extension of a tram line north of the Place des Nations to Grand-Saconnex and eventually to the town of Ferney, just over the border in France.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR