WOOD-SKIN covers the dome and walls of the new Assembly Hall of the United Nations Palace in Geneva. A flowing expanse of wooden ‘dunes’ clads the circular hall, featuring the patented process that allows the digital design of flexible three-dimensional coverings.
Architect: PEIA Associati
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Photography: DSL Studio
From the architect: The project has been realised by the architectural firm PEIA Associati, through a generous donation from the State of Qatar. The project reinterprets the diplomacy, tradition, calligraphy and the landscape of Qatar through contemporary materials, technologies and design languages.
The hall, with a capacity of 800 and an area of 4,000 square meters, is the largest and most technologically advanced of the UN, a model for future projects.
The restyling of the ceiling was done with Mesh Sheets, the most iconic product of the WOOD-SKIN family, which allows total freedom of form. The result is an architectural macro-membrane of about 1,000 square meters in okumè, warm and very lightweight wood with a flamed grain, perfect for anchoring to the pre-existing historical structure.
The WOOD-SKIN system also made it possible to integrate the circadian lighting by FLOS in a fluid way, along with the complex engineering required by a conference hall of the future. Air conditioning, video projectors, robotic cameras, and sensors were carefully positioned in the design phase and then seamlessly installed, creating an organic system that takes advantage of the features of WOOD-SKIN as a platform for technological integration.
An important feature of the space is its high-performance acoustics: the parametric modelling software allowed us to simulate the behavior of the surface and its deformation until achieving the volumes dictated by the technical/acoustic requirements of the space. The wall and ceiling panels, in addition to having characteristics of sound diffusion, are engineered to manage high and low sound frequencies. The complex geometries generate an irregular surface that promotes sound diffusion, thereby reducing echo. The textile core of the cladding, on the other hand, make the panels behave more like fabric than wood, capable of absorbing even the lower range of frequencies.
The use of a sculptural language breaks the symmetry of the circular conference room, giving the space a new dynamism, but also new metaphorical resonance.
The ceiling recalls the incessant movement of sand dunes, and the lighting system reflects the circadian rhythm of sunrise and sunset. The wooden wave panels on the walls change rhythm according to the acoustic optimization of the circular space, but they also symbolically represent the mission of the UN to promote and facilitate peace and diplomacy.
Peia Associati’s architectural design interprets the assembly space in all its physical and institutional complexity. WOOD-SKIN, thanks to its innovative technology that provides the solution to the most complex design challenges, complements the architecture both functionally and aesthetically.
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