International Organization for Migration announces top five winning proposals from design competition for its new headquarters

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International Organization for Migration announces top five winning proposals from design competition for its new headquarters

Junon (G8A Architecture & Urban Planning /Courtesy International Organization for Migration)

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:

rendering of curved building surrounded by trees
Junon, the winning proposal in the design competition for the International Organization for Migration headquarters building. (G8A Architecture & Urban Planning/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
rendering of sweeping deck space with outdoor seating
Junon (G8A Architecture & Urban Planning/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
model of Panier du monde
Junon (Courtesy International Organization for Migration)

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.”

rendering of boxy building at nightime
Green Diversity (PRODUCTORA/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
rendering interior view with wood slat ceiling and colorful platforms
Green Diversity (PRODUCTORA/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
model of green diversity proposal
Green Diversity (Courtesy International Organization for Migration)

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.”

rendering of building with framed exterior
Terre Commune (Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura + Locus/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
rendering of interior with wood and beige materials
Terre Commune (Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura + Locus/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
model of terre commune
Terre Commune (Courtesy International Organization for Migration)

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.”

rendering of building with crisscrossing wood facade
Panier Du Monde (Toshiko Mori Architect/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
rendering of staircase and interior
Panier Du Monde (Toshiko Mori Architect/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
model of Panier du monde
Panier Du Monde (Courtesy International Organization for Migration)

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.”

rendering of building with glass exterior and truss-like facade installation
(Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
rendering of wood interior with skylight
(Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Courtesy International Organization for Migration)
model of the nest
(Courtesy International Organization for Migration)

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.”

Non-awarded projects:

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