UN PALACE, XIX ROOM – Geneva, Switzerland

ARCHITECT: Peia Associati

LOCATION: Palace of the Nations, Geneve, Switzerland

CLIENT: State of Qatar for the United Nations

YEAR: 2019

AREA: 1000sqm

CATEGORY: Mesh Sheets

TYPOLOGY: Wall and ceiling covering

MATERIALS AND FINISHES: 

side A Varnished Okumè
side B Okumè

PHOTO CREDITS: Delfino Sisto Legnani – DSL Studio 

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.

WOOD-SKIN is the design and technical partner for the renovation of the United Nations Room XIX in Geneva, commissioned to 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 realization of this room embodies the best of Italian design and know-how. PEIA Associati, a world-class architectural firm, has chosen the AI Group as its engineering support and CCM as its general contractor.

For the furnishings, finishes, and lighting, WOOD-SKIN worked alongside Matteo Grassi, FLOS, Casalgrande Padana and Wallpepper. Other European and international partners include Taiden/Media-Vision, Wilkhahn, and Krion/Porcelanosa.

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.

Three-dimensional wood-panelled ceiling by WOOD-SKIN for UN Palace

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.

Three-dimensional wood-panelled ceiling by WOOD-SKIN for UN Palace
Three-dimensional wood-panelled ceiling by WOOD-SKIN for UN Palace

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. 

Three-dimensional wood-panelled ceiling by WOOD-SKIN for UN Palace

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.

Three-dimensional wood-panelled ceiling by WOOD-SKIN for UN Palace

IN THE DETAILS

  • 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.
Three-dimensional wood-panelled ceiling by WOOD-SKIN for UN Palace
  • As is often the case in projects using WOOD-SKIN, the ceiling of Room XIX was inspired in part by a specific form – the dunes of the desert. The sinuous lines are discretized and divided into triangles, a recurring geometry for the optimization of complex surfaces. Together with the architects, numerous iterations of the pattern were created, geometries with a precise cultural heritage, which were then gradually abstracted to arrive at the current configuration.
  • The various phases of the design of the large free-form ceiling followed one another in a fluid manner, without having to modify the underlying structures. WOOD-SKIN is supported by a series of guylines that serve both a structural and aesthetic function, whose positioning and measure is also defined by software. A lightweight and invisible forest of thin steel cables that, with a density 70% lower than traditional systems, easily supports all 5 tons of the 1,000-square-meter dropped ceiling.
  • WOOD-SKIN is an extremely lightweight material, so it was not necessary to reinforce the existing structure of the dome in order to install it; on the contrary, the WOOD-SKIN solution weighs far less than the original ceiling.
  • Thanks to WOOD-SKIN technology, the panels were transported flat to the construction site. This, together with the lightness of the material, made installation quick and easy, as well as minimizing the environmental impact.
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