Diplomacy rules— Geneva


Geneva: a world-shaper, a knowledge economy, a cultural hub and a city on the rise in our Quality of Life index. But how long can it hold on to its unique role? Property is hard to find, living costs are high and there are rival cities keen to take on its mantle. At the same time, no one can fault the lifestyle. Or can they?

Geneva, International affairs, Politics, UN

Three key facts:
1: Tribune de Genève is the main newspaper.
2: Average ambulance response time: five to seven minutes in centre.
3: There are 36 museums and art centres.

Geneva’s lakeside location is deceptively quaint. This city is, after all, one of the world’s most important diplomatic centres and these folksy surroundings are a well-established forum for hard-hitting, history-making global agreements. It was here at the famous “Fireside Summit” that Reagan and Gorbachev melted the Cold War and where peace was brokered for the war-ravaged…

Eco architecture

Geneva’s modern architecture is no great shakes but its eco-credentials are. The city is building ecological social housing and recently made all its street lights energy efficient, saving 30 per cent on electricity. Mayor Pagani aims to be “fossil fuel free” by 2050 and plans to make old houses energy positive by installing geo-thermal and solar energy features.

Increasingly, the lake is being used as an energy source. Last summer, the UN shut off its air-con and, instead, piped cool water from Lake Geneva into its Palais and neighbouring buildings. Other new buildings – College Sismondi, the Maison de la Paix and the extension of the WTO building – are using the lake to heat their structures in the winter.

And by the look of the huge solar panels on the US mission, the Americans are making an effort too.

Monocle fixes

1 Loosen up the trading hours. Hardworking diplomats and staff at Rolex need places to shop, eat and drink.
2 Open up a quartier for small entrepreneurs and light industry where people can live above shops. Commission Switzerland’s brightest architects to plan and design it.
3 Tear down Cointrin Airport and start from scratch. Hosoya Schaefer would be a good choice for architects.
4 Elegant residential towers in the 20 to 25 storey range would help ease housing problems.
5 Get some life on the streets after 17.45.

Art scene

Geneva has a surprisingly avant-garde art scene. The city-owned Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is a semi-converted factory which shows work by John M Armleder and Sylvie Fleury (two Geneva-born provocateurs). Nearby rue des Bains is home to a stretch of smaller galleries including Art&Public, owned by collector Pierre Huber.

Art here is increasingly political and often mirrors the UN’s calendar. February’s World Congress on the Death Penalty spawned a series of theatre shows and photography exhibits and the UN session on Human Rights had a corresponding film festival.

In up-and-coming areas such as Les Grottes, private galleries like Imaginaid, run by former Red Cross worker Serge Macia, are springing up showing humanitarian themed works.


0:00:00 0:01:00

Drag me