Thanks to the generous donation of the state of Qatar, the XIX Hall of the United Nations in Geneva has been completely renewed with the project of the PEIA architectural firm.
The capacity of the new Hall is 800 seats, with 320 seats and desks for the delegates of the States, plus same number of assistants, as well as observers and the press, making this Hall for Plenary Assemblies of 4000 square meters, the largest room and with the most advanced technology of the UN. The architectural design reflects the ideals of the United Nations through its concentric and radial circular design that exemplifies the concept of equality. Instead of large counters with different radius, a single and equal module of desk is designed for each member to be aggregated to others in according with the geometry of the different radius rows, in order to promote individuality and identity of nations.
The United Nations confirms the achievement of the goal as per initial request: to build the ideal matrix of any conference room, a model for any future project for the United Nations.
This democratic tool allows to minimize maintenance and energy consumption and maximize sustainability and flexibility. The key features of this space are its ability to provide most seats and wheelchair accessibility, being the first room equipped with 10 simultaneous translation booths including, first in the world, a booth dedicated to the interpreters of the sign language, establishing new standards of inclusiveness in the organization.
The room is equipped with high-definition screens enhanced by a state-of-the-art lighting system and the largest 4K LEDwall, guaranteeing the highest technological levels for communication. The individual 400 audio and video monitors are equipped with state-of-the-art translation systems, providing the most sophisticated tool for exchanging dialogues between all nations. The Room XIX, or Hall of Qatar, (the "donated" rooms are traditionally called even by the name of the donor country) is equipped with new high-definition motorized cameras and a new sophisticated communication system. Thus, for the first time, a UHD system enables the best image quality of the assemblies and conferences.
For the first time ever an innovative and unique lighting system was installed in a conference room to maximize comfort for United Nations delegates during long meeting sessions. Using the circadian lighting system, the room can pass through different lighting scenarios that imitate the rising and setting of the sun that emphasize the sculptural irregularity of the ceiling.
A further feature of the space are its high acoustic performance: with the help of parametric software, the shape and aggregation of 7.000 thin wooden eco-panels aggregated with a particular technology that makes them in different shape, allowing the management of high and low frequencies in the dynamic wooden architecture of the ceiling and internal walls, which covered the original wooden walls that survive in the inner layers, as a respectful “archaeological stratification” for the heritage.
These sculptural components represent the natural beauty of Qatar: the geometries that represent desert dunes, the sky and the sea, break the rigorous circular symmetry of the original room, giving spatial dynamism and providing a metaphorical representation. The panels form "waves" that change shape based on the differentiation of the acoustics of the circular space.
The dune (the vaulted ceiling) and the sky (the nations) are conceptually reversed upside down.
Sand and water are the two greatest natural resources, the most precious and the most dynamic materials, and commodities. The dome of the hall is an "inverted" dune with daily sunrise and sunset of the surrounding and circadian lighting system.
The design is also a clear reference to the cultural values of Qatar:
Calligraphy (traditionally called Islamic calligraphy) is actually within contemporary visual art culture, without textual meaning and relationship with religion. The end user, the United Nations, by compulsory secular status, has understood the graphic design proposal by our team as a contemporary interpretation of a form of artistic expression that no longer belongs only to the culture of the vast Arab world.
Whose formal richness is also in the matrices and geometric patterns (Musharabya), in particular with original types from Qatar, and has been reinterpreted in different components of the project such as the perforated wooden acoustic panels, bronze grids, fabrics, rugs and custom-made porcelain mosaics.
Finally, the history of the United Nations building was honoured through the redesign of the chairs, with a tribute to the work of Charlotte Perriand who collaborated on the project of the Building E in the 60s. Perriand was assistant of Le Corbusier, the master of the modern movement who was with Oscar Niemeyer in the team of architects for the United Nations headquarters in New York (1948- 1952).
Within the architectural project, the new chairs and furnishings are a very specific project of extreme complexity due to the ergonomic requirements, saving space in accordance with the functional planning of the entire space, in compliance with safety and evacuation rules and strategies, comfort for long sessions, flexibility and accessibility for disabled people, even with the possibility of removing any chair in a few seconds to be replaced by a wheelchair and removing toxic materials from the original parts, all of which made it necessary to replace the original furniture. However, thirty original chairs designed by Perriand, restored and reclaimed, now have a second life for visitors and schools that can participate at United Nations assemblies from the top of the mezzanine with the reuse in memory of the past of the Hall.
Past, present and future are in a continuous and supranational and timeless flow, as values that can be understood by the new generations.
The studio develops design in a wide spectrum of thematic areas, and any scale from masterplan to private villas, residential and multipurpose complex, high rise buildings, open spaces, public buildings, sports facilities and pavilions.
The Coca-Cola pavilion at Expo 2015 Milan, received the title of Leadership in the "Towards a Sustainable Expo" program and after Expo, the structure was rebuilt as a ‘Second Life’ for a public facility in Milan Park.
In Milan, the Cultural Centre Ikeda for Peace is the biggest Buddhist temple in Europe. Currently the most important project is the renovation of the United Nation in Geneva.
Among the recent completed project and works in progress: a Masterplan in Shanghai for residential towers and commercial areas, high rise buildings in Sri Lanka, two eco-resorts in the Maldives, one is the Westin Resort (opened October 2018), private villas in Middle East and Africa, a masterplan in Abidjan and the R&D for several companies for building innovation.