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Development of Geneva’s Waterfront – La Rade

  • Competition

The competition to gather ideas for developing the city of Geneva’s waterfront sought to generate innovative and unique alternatives for its development, activities on its piers, and lake access. In a bold move, the UpgRade project proposed to divert road traffic into a tunnel under the lake to free up the waterfront traffic. The freed-up area was to be transformed into an immense park—a meeting and relaxation area along the water’s edge.

Conscious of the currently chaotic condition of the shores, the project undertook to resolve the major issue of road traffic inconveniences with a tunnel below the lake. The underground infrastructure was to be connected on either end to an underground roundabout that had various exits to the city’s main arteries. The under-lake stretch was to measure approximately 500 m (1,600 ft.) long and be built with a submerged tunnel—prefabricated tunnel sections were to be floated out into the lake and then submerged so as to minimize the impact on the city during construction.

The submerged tunnel and access corridors also made it possible to integrate a water treatment and distribution network. Furthermore, the underground roundabouts contained the ventilation facilities and retail stalls, combined with utility rooms, are placed over them, at ground level. A lake water pumphouse and water distribution service ducts served to cool or heat city buildings. Water intake was equipped with intake screens and with a variable-level round weir that formed a very visible whole in the water, symbolizing all that man takes from nature.

The UpgRade project proposed to transform the waterfront into a giant, public green space bordered by a path dedicated to soft mobility. This space was to extend along both shores that are connected by the Mont-Blanc Bridge, freed up of its bottlenecks, to form a continuous promenade. The vegetation in the developed areas was to be connected to the city’s parks and public places to ensure the continuity of the vegetation extending from the waterfront into the city.

Lakeside leisure and relaxation areas were designed as little activity areas and steps providing access to the water. Bringing together cafés, ice cream vendors, play areas, urban fitness areas and amphitheaters with tiered seating bordering the lake extended the public space from the city to the water’s edge. In this way, the city was to become more connected to the lake, and the waterfront was to become a popular and calm relaxation area.

Additionally, two new semi-circular groups of stalls were planned: one at the Pâquis boarding point and one at the Jardin Anglais (English garden). These stalls were to bring together small restaurants, kiosks and the CGN ticket office in one area and create hubs of interest.

UpgRade is a project in which different plans overlapped and formed a single whole: the shortest route ever proposed to cross the waterfront and the substantial decongestion of public space along the downtown shore.


Project team

Map Localisation

Genève (GE)

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