The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has selected five winning proposals from a design competition for its new headquarters building in Geneva, Switzerland. Part of the United Nations system, the IOM is an intergovernmental organization that supports migrants worldwide and advises on migration policy.
Back in June, a jury comprising IOM members and building industry professions invited 15 firms—among them Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Kéré Architecture, PRODUCTORA, Sharon Davis, Toshiko Mori Architect, and others—to submit proposals for a sustainably crafted headquarters that reflects the diversity of the organization’s staff, members, and the populations it serves. While IOM was founded over 70 years ago, most of its work happens in the field or out of temporary office spaces in Geneva, and now these operations will have a permanent home.
The competition brief called for six types of programming: individual and collaborative workspaces, common areas, a conference center, support areas (including server and nursing rooms), and an outdoor space primarily to facilitate entry and exit from the building.
The submissions were evaluated on how architectural elements—quality of light, volumes, and massing—enhance IOM’s mission and project aims. Projects that incorporated natural ventilation, and utilized low embodied energy and cradle-to-grave construction materials were encouraged. Each invited firm was paired with a local, Swiss architect to develop a proposal that aligned with local codes. Submitting firms received compensation for their designs, with the top firm receiving $47,175.
Architect and Jury President Manuelle Gautrand, alongside colleagues in architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, planning, and real estate, convened to review the submissions. Six representatives from IOM rounded out the selection committee. Following the competition and winners announcement, the jury put forth a series of recommendations and next steps, which include assessing the project cost, operation, and construction feasibility, in addition to fine tuning the winning design. According to a press release, the IOM hopes to complete construction on the new headquarters in 2029.
Submissions from all participating firms are on view through December 2 at the International Conference Centre Geneva. For those not currently in Geneva, scroll on for more about each of the top projects and for jury commentary published in the competition Jury Report:
First Place First Prize: G8A Architecture & Urban Planning
Vietnamese firm G8A Architecture & Urban Planning, in collaboration with Localarchitecture, submitted a concrete and wood building that integrates trees from the surrounding landscape, an approach that aligns with a tower-in-the-park placement in the Jardin des Nations.
“The selected project has been able to blend elegantly into this site, with an interplay of curved facades and countercurves weaving their way between the trees, at times giving way to a square, an entrance, at times projecting forward to the north to show its presence. It is both gentle and emblematic, simple and spatially very rich. And it has successfully enabled users to benefit from this spatial richness: inside, the functions are distributed concentrically: starting with legible vertical connections located at the centre of the built volume, with the offices arranged in a circular pattern all around, and offering a high degree of flexibility.”
Second Prize: PRODUCTORA
Mexican firm PRODUCTORA, in collaboration with RDR Architectes and landscape architect Verzone Woods Architectes, delivered a project that preserves surrounding trees:
“The project is remarkable for its simplicity of volume, it stands out clearly in the context, minimizes the basements, and thus preserves the land and landscape. The grove of oak trees, which is emblematic of the Jardin des Nations, can be redeployed based on the three existing 52 Projets primés — Awarded projects 3 oak trees facing the route des Nations, in that way complementing the high, regular facade. The double front thus created by the addition of vegetation and the building constitutes a strong and imposing presence on the side facing Nations, which is the hallmark of many buildings in the international district. To the east, a form of inwardness is expressed through a series of recesses on the roof and a large stairway at ground level, which includes a ramp and vegetation. This serves a very open ground floor and beautifully requalifies the relationship with the existing building.”
Second Place Third Prize: Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura + Locus
Also hailing from Mexico, Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura + Locus, in collaboration with Dreier Frenzel Architecture, proposed flowing terraces and a structure crafted from on-site earth:
“The project offers coordinated spaces with different combinations of recesses and projections, making it possible to create very varied and flexible layouts for different types of uses and future types of work organization. Besides, thanks to this coordination, the terraces provide a number of outside spaces that are a considerably enrichment for those working in their offices. This spatial arrangement fits into the context, evoking the gentle undulations of the surrounding mass of greenery, while retaining a height that is contained and adapted to the town planning regulations governing the area. With this versatility, the building seems to interpret the character of the new IOM headquarters as a place accessible to all, a place of multiple encounters, rather than a lifeless monument.”
Fourth Prize: Toshiko Mori Architect
New York’s Toshiko Mori Architect, in collaboration with dl-a designlab architecture, submitted an oval-shaped building that opens up toward the neighborhood:
“The oval shape becomes space for an atrium, where there is the most traffic, a place for informal meetings and for collaboration work, and a gym on the roof; an oval pavilion forms the entrance to the site and provides access to the public area and to the underground conference rooms. The jury appreciated the shared facilities on the roof and the positioning of the restaurant with access to areas extending outside, as well as the oval atrium connecting all the workspace levels to the main lobby and the conference level.”
Fifth Prize: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
New York’s Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Itten + Brechbühl and landscape architect Atelier Miething, proposed a glass skinned tower nested into a landscaped terrace:
“The project proposes a response appropriate to the plot and to its neighboring building, in the form of an elegant diamond-shaped structure that seems to emerge from the ground, with an inside mesh structure supporting a facade entirely of glass, like a hanging curtain. The jury—and the IOM in particular—appreciate the building’s image of openness, conveyed by a sleek and streamlined tower, its positioning in relation to the neighboring building, as well as the elegant entrance area and the conference centre. The overall composition strikes a balance between monumentality and integration into the context.”
Sharon Davis Design and Marvel with NOMOS Architects
HNNA Ltd with Burckhardt + Partner
NLE with Frei & Stefani
Adjaye Associates with DL-C Architecture et Construction
Sebastian Irarrazaval with Tekhne
Crossboundaries with CCHE Lausanne
Selgascano with d2 Architectes et Associés
SJK Architects with AAG + Atelier d’architecture Grivel + Girod
Anna Heringer & Martin Rauch with Baumschlager Eberle Architekten