The William Rappard Centre, the building that plays host to the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, was built in 1926.
After the WTO decided to raise the density of its site, group8 was commissioned to find solutions to renew the existing offices and to create new surfaces “intra-muros”, without touching the base of the building. How to densify the interior of a heritage building without getting rid of its own “substance”? Naturally, the project has turned towards the two big courtyards that compose the existing William Rappard Centre: the north patio, around 700 m2 and open to the sky, and a square courtyard to the south, occupied originally by a library. In this last space, group8asia proposes a new adjustable conference centre, with a capacity of 450 seats.
The project entails building an open garden over the roof of this conference room for the enjoyment of all users of the WTO. The sensation of bigness is achieved in the other interior patio on the north side where visitors can cross under a void that reaches 18 meters high. To simply cover the existing outdoor space, group8asia proposes here a very sophisticated structure made of metallic beams and transparent air “pockets”. The group8asia objective of adding a new technological solution in each of its projects, in this case a transparent air membrane, is again achieved. This technology, used more and more in futuristic projects, ensures perfect insulation, waterproofing and allows for sufficient natural light.