The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva is a postgraduate research and training institute specialising in international studies, especially the links between international relations and economic development. The institute was only established in 2008 and is located on the De La Paix campus, in the international heart of Geneva, near Lake Geneva and the European headquarters of the United Nations.
The campus is a combination of old and new buildings. Maison de la Paix is one of the new ones, designed by the Ipas Architectes practice to house teaching and research facilities, a spacious library, an auditorium, conference areas and a café. The building will also be home to the Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and other organisations that promote global peace, security and development.
Maison de la Paix lies parallel to the train tracks and is divided into six glazed, petal-shaped volumes arranged in a row on a single foundation. The complex is a mix of concrete, steel and glass to create a dynamic, composite effect that produces numerous views and self-referencing images that draw out a powerful, harmonious identity. The steel structure - designed, created and installed by Stahlbau Pichler - was key to producing a high impact centre. At the entrance to petal one, the extensive overhangs create large covered areas, free of pillars. Similarly, the stairs for petal four are covered by a 37-m clear span. Inside, the Ivan Pictet auditorium has a three-dimensional structure that adorns the ceiling and replaces six columns, each of which would have had to support a weight of between 400 and 600 tons.
Stahlbau Pichler also created the double-layered steel and glass façade that follows the curving line of the building, with a surface area in excess of 15,000 sq m. The inside layer is equipped with high-performance triple-glazing that ensures excellent thermal protection and a second double-glazed layer provides an additional acoustic shield to block out the nearby railway noises. These façade layers are separate and accessible via a maintenance walkway. They include a window blind system that helps ensure comfort in the work and study areas.
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