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Geneva municipality wins 2022 Wakker heritage prize

The eco housing development Les Vergers, which can accommodate up to 3,000 inhabitants, was planned in close consultation with the community. © Schweizer Heimatschutz / Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Meyrin, home to the European nuclear research centre CERN, had the long-term vision to prioritise social cohesion and biodiversity in its plans to accommodate an exploding population, the Swiss Heritage Society said on Thursday.

This content was published on January 13, 2022 - 11:44
swissinfo.ch/gw

The Society praised the former agricultural village bordering the city of Geneva for its transformation into a “large, lively and pleasant community […] in the space of two generations”. Meyrin’s population has grown by 1,200% since 1950.

Host to CERN and a portion of the Geneva Airport, today the municipality is home to 26,000 residents from a whopping 140 different nationalities.

The Nouvelle Cité, built in the 1960s as the first satellite city in Switzerland to cope with a growing demand for housing. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Over time municipal planners have adapted existing buildings to modern needs and favoured public meeting places in rejuvenation plans. One example is the Nouvelle Cité, built in the 1960s as the first satellite city in Switzerland to cope with a growing demand for housing. The complex has undergone sensitive and sustainable renovation works that highlight its original urban design.

The Society also singled out the new eco housing development Les VergersExternal link, created in direct consultation with the community to accommodate up to 3,000 inhabitants. The development is guided by three pillars of sustainability: social cohesion, respect for the environment and economic efficiency.

The Swiss Heritage Society also praised Meyrin for preserving its historical centre while accommodating the needs of its growing population. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

“Through its actions, [Meyrin] has shown how a municipality can assume its responsibilities towards its population and the environment,” the Society said.

Founded in 1905, the Swiss Heritage Society is focused on “the preservation of important landmarks, the development of the structural environment, and the promotion of good architectural design”. In 2022 it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wakker prizeExternal link, given each year to a municipality or organisation for achievements in high-quality urban development.

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