Img: Steven Holl Architects/Rüssli Architekten 
Steven Holl Architects’ ‘Colors of Humanity’ building, designed on behalf of international humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), more commonly known in the UK as Doctors Without Borders, is truly a joy to behold. Combining a deep-running and evident desire for eco-friendly design with an eye-catching vibrancy courtesy of a fully-photovoltaic multi-hued façade, it is clear to show why MSF chose the New York-based architect’s design over a slew of competing proposals from firms including; Pool Architekten & Mak Architecture, Sauerbruch Hutton, Emilio Tuñon Arquitectos & Ruckstuhl Architekten, Blue Architects, and Consortium Sou Foujimoto with The New Talent Workshop.

The proposal received high praise from Mathieu Soupart, Logistics Director for the MSF Operational Centre Geneva, who proudly stated that, “Steven Holl Architects’ project is the opportunity for MSF to integrate its core values like independence, impartiality, neutrality, altruism and dynamism in a challenging new architecture and project itself in the future.”

The colourful façade you see above is made up of a series of massive photovoltaic glass panels which generate 72% of the building’s required energy, ensuring an environmentally-friendly operation. This photovoltaic façade has been made to be 40% transparent so as to not block the flow of natural light into the building’s interior, which would have a negative effect upon the wellbeing of the workforce.

Solar panels also extend up onto the building’s roof, where they share space with an elaborate rooftop garden; a further sign of the project’s green credentials.

Img: Steven Holl Architects/Rüssli Architekten
Inside, the building will provide flexible work and social spaces for more than 250 employees, with each area of the premises being carefully thought out so as to foster collaboration among the workforce. This will be achieved via the provision of varying styles of workspaces and colour-coded seating alcoves all linked by a network of criss-crossing circulation paths, specifically designed to increase collisions and by extension collaboration in the workplace all while encouraging a sense of community within the organisation.

“These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building,” explained Steven Holl Architects.

Additionally, the innovative glass wall system utilised throughout the building has been designed to be “open-ended” in order to facilitate further expansion should a need for additional space arise in the future.

“Doctors Without Borders, MSF, is an inspiring organization. It is an honour to realise architecture for their Geneva home,” said Steven Holl.

The project is expected to begin construction in spring 2019.


Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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