Searching for a suitable response to the big housing demand in the Canton of Geneva, which would, in addition lead, to the creation of a high-quality residential environment for all citizens, the Canton together with the stakeholder municipalities commissioned a series of studies or “Grand Projets”. All of them belong to strategically important sectors that had already been earmarked for urban planning projects in the future. The municipalities Chêne-Bourg and Chêne-Bougeries were not only selected because of their strategic location along the railway link from Main Station Geneva Cornavin - which is to be converted into an underground railway station - to Annemasse (CEVA), but also because they are situated in an area where the agglomeration is shot through with historic structures.
The brief asked for a vision or master plan for the area in its entirety, as well as additional and complementary in-depth studies of selected locations, which in some cases were then detailed to an extent where they could serve as recommendations for a development plan. Different topics such as urbanization, the protection of the built heritage, mobility, nature and the environment, ownership or tenancy, social structures, economic efficiency of the schemes and the quality of the public realm were analyzed, developed further and summarized in the form of written recommendations and diagrams in detail folders, and illustrated with examples. The ideas that were developed to achieve high-quality densification and urban development, “urban intensification”, were based on playing to the strengths identified at the different locations, and support the unique character and identification with them. For each area of investigation key urban quality criteria were defined which would be absolutely essential if the goal of high-quality development was to be fulfilled. Our approach which was summed up by the title “Quality Management Manual”, puts a holistic and sustainable perspective on urban development into the very center of attention, as it was our endeavor to offer an appropriate response to the question of housing demand, rather than just searching for isolated densification solutions that would have been based on individual projects.
It was our objective to provide sufficient scope for different kinds of architecture in harmony with the high-level goals of urban planning, to provide the diversity that is so important for the vitality of urban settlements, while guaranteeing and respecting urban qualities and neighborhood. These include the relationships between buildings and the street, the design of the facades at ground level, the vitalization and safety of the public space as well as the height of buildings in relation to the topography of the respective site.
The study was produced by an interdisciplinary team, the project output of the individual disciplines was then integrated into the urban planning project. For this reason the master plan not only contains proposals on how to achieve an “intensification of the urban space”, but also the respective economic, social and site-specific feasibility.