A vision for new WHO offices

Gail Taylor
Wednesday 17 Jun 2015

Latitude’s newly revealed competition designs for the World Health Organisation have sustainability and communication at their core

Madrid and Beijing-based architects, Latitude Studio, has revealed its design proposals for the New Building of the World Health Organization (WHO), as part of a competition staged by the organisation. If chosen, the designs will replace a number of temporary buildings at the Headquarters site in Geneva. 

The New Building will be one of three buildings that comprise the WHO Headquarters. The Main Building, designed by Bernard Tschumi, will continue to be the primary representation of the WHO. 

The proposed construction of the New Building is a symbol of optimism for the organisation, which works within the United Nations. Equally, the WHO is a symbol of global communication and collaboration. Toward that end, Latitude’s designs encompass both closed office spaces and open workspaces where spontaneous events, meetings and conversations can occur.

The New Building for the WHO has been designed with sustainability in mind, and will incorporate features such as double-layer façade configuration. An air cushion between the inner and outer façades of the building will allow air to move freely between the two, thus keeping the temperature within the building cool. 

Sustainable features include solar energy, with fifty percent of the New Building’s roof being fitted with solar panels to supply a portion of the energy needed by the building. Solar panels will also be installed on some areas of the east, south, and west façades of the building, effectively turning them into energy generators.

The New Building will harvest rainwater on both the rooftop and through basement ceilings. This will be used to irrigate the outdoor and indoor gardens.

The general office layout of the New Building is based on the design of the “most efficient individual office unit”, where all of the vertical surfaces in an office are movable in order to create an open space.

However, the New Building office spaces are also configured in an “S layout.” This means that the individual offices are configured together with open workspaces, creating more common space for collaboration. Each of the “S layout” zones has their own service area and access to stairs and elevators.

The New Building contains six floors with a total area of 14,000 sqm in both open and enclosed office space. Its basement is designed to have maximum exposure to the existing WHO organisation campus.

Gail Taylor

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