The UN, the most important and multilateral institution of Planet Earth, lives and survives with the proportional contribution to its wealth by each of the 193 member states, (despite some of them are not paying now) and with specific donations. Thanks to the generous donation of the state of Qatar, the XIX Hall of the United Nations in Geneva has been completely renewed with the project of the PEIA architectural firm.
The capacity of the new Hall is 800 seats, with 320 seats and desks for the delegates of the States, plus same number of assistants, as well as observers and the press, making this Hall for Plenary Assemblies of 4000 square meters, the largest room and with the most advanced technology of the UN.
The key features of this space are its ability to provide most seats and wheelchair accessibility, being the room equipped with 10 simultaneous translation booths including, first in the world, a booth dedicated to the interpreters of the sign language, establishing new standards of inclusiveness in the organization.
The room is equipped with high-definition screens enhanced by a state-of-the-art lighting system and the largest 4K LEDwall, guaranteeing the highest technological levels for communication.
For the first time ever an innovative and unique lighting system was installed in a conference room to maximize comfort for United Nations delegates during long meeting sessions. Using the circadian lighting system, the room can pass through different lighting scenarios that imitate the rising and setting of the sun that emphasize the sculptural irregularity of the ceiling.
A further feature of the space are its high acoustic performance: with the help of parametric software, the shape and aggregation of 7.000 thin wooden eco-panels aggregated with a particular technology that makes them in different shape, allowing the management of high and low frequencies in the dynamic wooden architecture of the ceiling and internal walls, which covered the original wooden walls that survive in the inner layers, as a respectful “archaeological stratification” for the heritage. These sculptural components represent the natural beauty of Qatar: the geometries that represent desert dunes, the sky and the sea, break the rigorous circular symmetry of the original room, giving spatial dynamism and providing a metaphorical representation.
The dune (the vaulted ceiling) and the sky (the nations) are conceptually reversed upside down.
The design is also a clear reference to the cultural values of Qatar: Calligraphy (traditionally called Islamic calligraphy) is actually within contemporary visual art culture, without textual meaning and relationship with religion.
Whose formal richness is also in the matrices and geometric patterns (Musharabya), in particular with original types from Qatar, and has been reinterpreted in different components of the project such as the perforated wooden acoustic panels, bronze grids, fabrics, rugs and custom-made porcelain mosaics.
The history of the United Nations building was honoured through the redesign of the chairs, with a tribute to the work of Charlotte Perriand who
collaborated on the project of the Building E in the 60s. Perriand was assistant of Le Corbusier, the master of the modern movement who was with Oscar Niemeyer in the team of architects for the United Nations headquarters in New York (1948-1952).
Within the architectural project, the new chairs and furnishings are a very specific project of extreme complexity due to the ergonomic requirements, saving space in accordance with the functional planning of the entire space, in compliance with safety and evacuation rules and strategies, comfort for long sessions, flexibility and accessibility for disabled people, even with the possibility of removing any chair in a
few seconds to be replaced by a wheelchair and removing toxic materials from the original parts, all of which made it necessary to replace the original furniture. However, thirty original chairs designed by Perriand, restored and reclaimed, now have a second life for visitors and schools that can participate at United Nations assemblies from the top of the mezzanine with the reuse in memory of the past of the Hall.