Competition "Place des Nations" for the United Nations in Geneva

Cloud #9 - 60.000m² multi-functional offices and public space

A paradigm shift is manifest in the constantly growing and changing, unstable sociopolitical structure of our world, and it is taking place on many different levels, from genetics to quantum physics.

The world is no longer being considered only with regard to individual objects, but in its relationships and interactions. This corresponds to an attitude reflected in Michel Foucault’s remark that every form is a compound of relations between forces.
In contrast to this, Coop Himmelb(l)au was founded in 1968 with the idea of making “architecture light and changeable like clouds.” Now, at the end of the 20th century and in the specific context of a competition for the United Nations, the idea of the cloud regained importance. With the concept for Cloud #9, the team wanted to go a step further:

“The cloud itself can be seen as an idea without an adequate concept; it is more a differentiated system than an object. Since it is a product of the complex fabric of influences in which it is situated, it eludes any identity. The cloud seen as method thereby threatens to undermine the architects’ control, yet simultaneously opens new spatial possibilities.”

Much as the shape of a cloud is sensitive to heat, wind, and air pressure, the design for the Place des Nations is sensitive to the necessities of the site and the program:

“The power of the city. The space of the cloud is ignited at the intersection of the parameters of city planning, height limits, and circulation vectors. The result is a soft, fluctuating enigma - a building that does not want to be a building anymore.”

When the grid vanishes, Gestalt still remains.




COOP HIMMELB(L)AU Wolf D. Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky + Partner
Project Architect: Karolin Schmidbaur
Project Coordinator: Johannes Kraus
Project Team: Hannes Aichholzer, Urs Bette, Stefan Niese, Régis Péan, Markus Pillhofer, Adam Swiczinsky, Iwan Tochew, Sergej Serr, Tom Wiscombe


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