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Skyscrapers proposed for Geneva 'urban centre'

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Skyscrapers proposed for Geneva 'urban centre'
Photo: Canton of Geneva/Dupraz and Byrne
20:48 CET+01:00
A jury of experts has selected an architectural design that would see three skyscrapers up to 172 metres high at the heart of a new “urban centre” in Geneva.

The three towers would be surrounded by four blocks 75 metres high in the Praille-Acacia-Vernets neighbourhood, the canton of Geneva announced on Monday.

The tall buildings, envisioned for the Etoile area off the Route des Jeunes, would be geared for offices and shops, as well as a proposed new home for Geneva’s cantonal justice department, now scattered over several sites.

A total of 1,500 housing units is also promised as part of the development, according to the designs of winning architects Pierre-Alain Dupraz, from Geneva, and partner Gonçalo Byrne, from Lisbon.

“This neighbourhood being the symbol of Geneva’s dynamism, it was evident for us to go up to the maximum height possible (under the plan for the area),” Dupraz is quoted as saying by Le Temps newspaper.

This height falls short by just a few metres of the Roche office tower nearing completion in Basel (178 metres) and would be considerably taller than Zurich’s Prime Tower, which is currently Switzerland’s tallest building at 126 metres.

The design calls for a stream currently underground, La Drize, to be opened up as the spine of a green corridor to link up a large park with the Accacias area.

As well, it calls for four “islands” of development with buildings at the same height as the city of Geneva’s historic city centre, around five to seven storeys.

The project is planned for a commercial-industrial zone that has long been earmarked for redevelopment, although other proposals for the area, including one calling for a cluster of towers, have fizzled.

The latest design is meant to dovetail with the Cornavin-Eaux-Vives-Annemasse (CEVA) regional rail line currently under construction with a station (Lancy-Pont Rouge) planned for the neighbourhood.

The first buildings could be completed by 2020, the cantonal government said.

But the project is designed to be built in stages, given that some of the land is not yet available for construction.

Other questions linger over what private developers will actually erect the buildings and the ratio of offices to housing.

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