Officially inaugurated on Sept. 22, 2014, the Peace Footbridge constitutes a key element in Geneva's Secheron neighborhood. Designed by the architect Pierre-Alain Dupraz (in partnership with Laurent Chablais, CP civil engineers SA), it crosses over the railroad pathways, in such a way offering a new connection between the Place des Nations and the lakefront.
The Secheron neighborhood is in full swing of change. Located near the city center, the international organizations, and a belt of important circulation routes that are well-served by public transportation, this site offers exceptional development potential, notably because of its industrial past, which has left behind important surviving virgin sites. Numerous restructurings and constructions have been achieved here, are underway, or will be realized in the midterm.
The project for a footbridge crossing the railway paths inscribed itself into this new environment in order to create an indispensable link between the different buildings and infrastructures on the site. The footbridge also constitutes a central element of a larger network dedicated to "soft" mobility, reconnecting the lakefront to the international organizations neighborhood. In this capacity, for many years, it has been part of master restructuring plans by presenting an advanced and particular quality of travel.
With the realization of this work in mind, which was the fruit of a close collaboration between architects and engineers, the City of Geneva organized a multidisciplinary architecture competition in 2004.
The History and Motifs of the Work
The industrial past of the site in Secheron began with the electrification of the railroad in 1916, which allowed for the creation of the Anonymous Society for the Ateliers of Secheron. Little by little, installations grew, and the means of production increased. Still, urban development during the 20th century, the weakened links between the railroad and industry, the access difficulties for utilitarian vehicles, as well as the attractiveness of other sites in the periphery, which were more suitable, got the better of the site's industrial interest.
In parallel, during the 20th century, the surroundings of the Place des Nations also saw the arrival of international organizations, with the National Bureau of Work and the League of Nations, followed by dozens of other organizations - governmental and NGOs - and numerous missions and embassies.
The dynamism of development in this region, the creation of numerous places of work and study, as well as the arrival of new inhabitants made the creation of a network reserved for pedestrians and cyclists necessary in order to respond to the current demands of the population's quality of life.
The footbridge, located at the center of development in the neighborhood, allows for reconnecting the two parts of the site cut apart by an important rail line, and makes up the connection between the public infrastructures and different projects that are underway and are located on one side or the other of the railroad.
It represents a central element of the "Peace Campus" project - initiated in 2008 by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) - that extends from the Place des Nations to the Mon-Repos Park, and which foresees the occupation of a group of new or renovated buildings by institutions connected to the promotion of peace in the world.
The Characteristics of the Work
The Peace Footbridge constitutes a new, open-air itinerary across the Secheron neighborhood, in the background of circulation routes. It offers a new point of view on both the railroad and built environment that surrounds it. Its nonrectilinear plan contrasts with the linearity of the rails.
It is made up of triangulated metallic beams, whose height varies all along the path in combination with a variation in their width - with one increasing as the other decreases. The security norms in effect conditioned this relationship in part. Inside the footbridge, the beams are inclined toward the center in order to give passersby the feeling of protection and to shield them from the wind. It is dressed in perforated sheets on the exterior and translucent glass on the interior.
By night, lighting integrated behind the glass accompanies passersby and creates a play of transparencies. A continuous warm white light is emitted over the entire length of the footbridge through diffusing glass, which also serves as a guard rail. The fixtures are equipped with long-lasting fluorescent tubes that are energy efficient.
The construction of this work began with the installation of reinforced concrete piers in the subsoil on the side of the Rue Kazem-Radjavi. The piles that keep up the footbridge were then cast in concrete, while supporting themselves on these piers. The central pile, located at the height of the CFF stop, was also built.
The seven sections that make up the bridge were assembled by one of the most powerful cranes in Europe. This delicate work was completed in part during the nighttime in order to not disturb rail traffic. Provisional piles were built in order to prop up the metallic elements. They were later dismantled: the whole work now rests on only three supports.
160 meters in length, the footbridge is accessible from the Rue Kazem-Radjavi through an escalator and an elevator. A link with the Avenue de France was created across the public esplanade located at the foot of the news student residence. At the center, it is connected with the Secheron railway stop. An escalator and elevator allow for directly connecting with the CFF platform. These two connections were achieved with reinforced concrete and were covered with a metallic structure.
On the side of the Maison de la Paix, a 40-step escalator meets the Eugene-Rigot path. An integrated ramp into this infrastructure ensures accessibility to the disabled and bikers.
The Peace Footbridge constitutes a flagship element of the Secheron neighborhood: its central location on the site, audacious architect and essential function toward soft mobility are just a few of its key aspects. Additionally, its clear and advantageous position above the rail pathways confer upon it exemplary visibility and a quality of architectural promenade that favors the affirmation of the presence of the City of Geneva in this district as the catalyst for a harmonious and sustainable urban development.
Program: Construction of a pedestrian and bike-able bridge above the railroad pathways/access planning, including for people with limited mobility/installing two elevators and one escalator for access/integrated public lighting.
Project Developer: The City of Geneva | Planning and Construction Department
Project Management: Pierre-Alain Dupraz Architect ETS FAS (project designer in partnership with Laurent Chablais, CP civil engineers SA)/ Civil Engineers: DIC SA engineers (leaders of the project implementation)/ Electrical Engineers: Ingenius Sarl Ernest Peter Bichsel/Surveyors: Ney & Hurni SA/Experts: Ott & Uldruy Sarl/Geotechnicians: GADZ SA in collaboration with CFF
Length of the work: 160 meters
Exterior width of the footbridge: 6.5-12 meters
Interior width of the footbridge: 5.2-7 meters
Height of the footbridge from the ground: 8.5 meters
Height of the footbridge from the interior: 1.3-3.7 meters
Weight of the metal work: 633 tonnes
Weight of the surfacing of the footbridge: 27 tonnes
Lighting of the Footbridge: 720 square meters of glass; 380 ml of fixtures
Walking/Biking Surface: 1,100 square meters paved, 330 ml gutter
Quantity of Concrete: 970 cubic meters
Quantity of armoring steel: 158 tonnes
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Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.