Graines de villes: densification in Geneva

In September 2015 we participatied in the Breaking Ground Workshop, organised in Geneva by Urbz, urban research and action collective.

The aim was to work on ‘gradual development strategies for the city of Geneva‘, a city which is currently experiencing a housing shortage and a big rise in rental prices, increasingly pushing the youth and some vulnerable groups to the agglomeration’s outer periphery. Without much land left, the government has announced a target of 30,000 new housing units in the city’s low-density residential areas, 8,000 of which must be built by 2030.

So how can neighbourhoods become better while becoming denser? Incremental developments in already inhabited areas must be based on residents’ knowledge and initiatives. The proposal focused on ‘Mail Sud’, a low-density neighborhood between the airport and the city center, conceiving strategies for its gradual densification while enhancing its liveability and actively involving the residents and homeowners.

‘Graines de villes’ represents a concept of organic growth based on the existing built environment. Starting from the micro (plot) to the macro scale (block and neighborhood), densification is encouraged by giving residents a framework of action, consisting on guidelines determined by the territorial context. This framework revolves around a new mobility scheme with structuring soft mobility axes that connect to the city center, planning new public equipments and a new local network of green public spaces around which new developments and housing extensions can gradually occur under the owner’s initiatives and programming. A toolkit of technical, legal and financial support is proposed to guide and assist densification in its diverse forms, where flexibility of plots’ fusion and the emergence of collective forms and cooperative housing are facilitated.

In collaboration with Iman Salama, Pierre Kirk-Jensen, Benoît Greiner, Sofia Symenidou, Shinji Terada and Amin Khosravi.