The competition, organised by the Construction and Planning Department of the City of Geneva and carried out in three eliminatory phases, is fully in line with what has been called the urban planning of requalification as opposed to the, perhaps already unsustainable, urban planning of expansion. In the idea of working on the transformation of the city, which will undoubtedly be the near future of our activity, rather than designing new objects, it will be a question of transforming those already built. To improve parts of the city that have already been built, to transform the city from within, to reinvent itself instead of expanding. To clarify where before there was insufficiency, confusion and chaos. And perhaps to subtract rather than add. In short, not to propose anything new but to use what already exists by giving it a new meaning, a different semantic context.
The main objective of the competition was to optimise the functioning of the existing station in view of its underground extension, which is planned to be carried out in two phases between 2025 and 2050. It also aimed to give a new identity to the Cornavin complex through the new configurations of the open spaces surrounding the station, with the proposal for the new north façade which, like an urban portico, runs freely and expressively along the entire 400 metre long street, giving unity, coherence and recognition to the building of Geneva's main station, while offering a new space of welcome, intermediation and transition between the station and the city.
Another fundamental aspect of the project has been to propose new public pedestrian spaces including the enhancement of the site's constituent elements, both the built and historical heritage and the surrounding urban fabric, through the reorganisation of the main traffic flows - trams, buses - in order to promote the efficiency of public transport and intermodal interchange, eliminating private traffic and promoting soft mobility.
Moreover, the reorganisation of the vertical connection systems between the different levels of the station on its rear façade has enabled us to free Place de Montbrillant of obstacles, so that the new covered gallery now forms the new and necessary north façade of Cornavin Station.
These new additions allow us to present a dense, complex and specific intervention proposal, basically defined by these objectives:
a) To give a new identity to the PôleCornavin through the new spatial configuration of the Place de Cornavin and Montbrillant and the new north façade of the station.
b) To seek a unification of the intervention through a homogeneous ground for the whole complex.
c) To achieve great urban permeability through the proposal of new passages and the reinvention of the existing ones, now converted into truly urban passages: lively, luminous, comfortable and attractive.
d) Propose new pedestrian public spaces: an extensive dual, mineral and tree-lined space for the Place de Cornavin and a new, highly qualified pedestrian space for the Place de Montbrillant.
f) Improve intermodality between the different modes of transport by ensuring an efficient and comfortable functioning of intermodal exchanges.
A project that emphasises the urban dimension of architecture, the practice of civic architecture with a strong urban involvement, the conviction that the future of cities lies in their public spaces and shared territories and, finally, the idea that the city is much more important than architectures understood as isolated facts.
A proposal that, far from formal exhibitionism, seeks to vindicate that essential, measured and sensible architecture that is really necessary, that responds to the needs, specificity and singularity of the place where it intervenes, always at the service of people and society.