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Competition: ITU headquarters, Geneva

ITU headquarters in in Geneva, Switzerland
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The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has launched a competition to design a landmark headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Open to architects based in any of the ITU’s 193 member states, the anonymous two-stage competition seeks proposals for a new main administrative building for the specialised agency of the United Nations.

The winning scheme will replace the ITU’s historic Varembé building (pictured) in Geneva’s Place des Nations which has hosted the organisation for more than 50 years. It will also include a link to the ITU’s nearby Montbrillant building which was designed by Jean-Jacques Oberson following a contest in 1999.

According to the brief: ‘This competition is about defining an overall concept for the development of the site. ITU is seeking a design proposal which, in terms of urban planning, architecture and functionality, is well suited to the site and incorporates current environmental thinking.

‘The architectural expression of the new building, its integration into the site, its functionality and its connection with the existing Montbrillant Building, are as much the objectives of the competition as the viability of the implementation costs. The client wants a high-performance building for its services in terms of office facilities. The location of the multifunctional conference rooms and cafeteria/restaurant is an important element in this context.’

The ITU, founded in 1895 and originally known as the International Telegraph Union, is a specialised agency of the United Nations, dealing with issues relating to information and communication technologies.

Since 1962 it has occupied a prominent 48,000m² site within Geneva’s Place des Nations district. The ITU campus currently hosts the 120m-long Varembé building alongside a tower built in 1973 and the 12,000m² Montbrillant building.

The winning scheme will replace the ageing Varembé building, and have space for more than 700 ITU staff. It will include a link to the six-storey Montbrillant building, which is also due to be refurbished. The ITU’s pentagonal, 57m-tall tower will meanwhile be transferred to a third party.

Proposals should feature a reception area, several conference halls, flexible workspace for 723 employees, a cafeteria, VIP restaurant and kitchen. They should also contain exhibition areas, cultural facilities including art rooms, a gym, infirmary and a security centre. A feasibility study for the project was completed by local studio Frisk de Marignac Pidoux last year.

The jury will be chaired by Hassan Radoine, director of the National School of Architecture of Morocco, and will include ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao alongside architects from Columbia, Lebanon, Japan, Russia and France.

A prize fund worth around £250,000 will be split between the top five to seven winners. Teams participating in the second stage will also receive around £9,400 each. The overall winning team, set to be announced in January 2018, will work with ITU to develop detailed plans and cost estimates and to submit a building permit application by September next year.

The competition languages are French and English and the deadline for applications is 5 May.

How to apply

Register with the Swiss public procurement platform for further information

Visit the competition website

Contact details

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Place des Nations
1211 Geneva 20

Tel: +41 22 730 5111 (ITU Switchboard)
Email: itucompetition@bc-a.ch


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