WOOD-SKIN covers the dome and walls of the new Room XIX of UN Palace in Geneva

Designer Peia Associati
Surfaces WOOD-SKIN
Project Room XIX at United Nations Palace in Geneva
Year 2019
Location Geneva, Switzerland
Typology Auditorium
Materials Wood panels
Collection Mesh Sheets
Photo DSL Studio

WOOD-SKIN is the design and technical partner for the renovation of the United Nations Room XIX in Geneva, commissioned to the architectural firm PEIA Associati, through a generous donation from the State of Qatar. The project reinterprets the diplomacy, tradition, calligraphy and the landscape of Qatar through contemporary materials, technologies and design languages.

The realization of this room embodies the best of Italian design and know-how. Peia Associati, a world-class architectural firm, has chosen the AI Group as its engineering support and CCM as its general contractor.

For the furnishings, finishes, and lighting, WOOD-SKIN worked alongside Matteo Grassi, FLOS, Casalgrande Padana and Wallpepper. Other European and international partners include Taiden/Media-Vision, Wilkhahn, and Krion/Porcelanosa.

The hall, with a capacity of 800 and an area of 4,000 square meters, is the largest and most technologically advanced of the UN, a model for future projects.

The restyling of the ceiling was done with Mesh Sheets, the most iconic product of the WOOD-SKIN family, which allows total freedom of form. The result is an architectural macro-membrane of about 1,000 square meters in okumè, warm and very lightweight wood with a flamed grain, perfect for anchoring to the pre-existing historical structure.

The WOOD-SKIN system also made it possible to integrate the circadian lighting by FLOS in a fluid way, along with the complex engineering required by a conference hall of the future. Air conditioning, video projectors, robotic cameras, and sensors were carefully positioned in the design phase and then seamlessly installed, creating an organic system that takes advantage of the features of WOOD-SKIN as a platform for technological integration.

An important feature of the space is its high-performance acoustics: the parametric modelling software allowed us to simulate the behavior of the surface and its deformation until achieving the volumes dictated by the technical/acoustic requirements of the space. The wall and ceiling panels, in addition to having characteristics of sound diffusion, are engineered to manage high and low sound frequencies. The complex geometries generate an irregular surface that promotes sound diffusion, thereby reducing echo. The textile core of the cladding, on the other hand, make the panels behave more like fabric than wood, capable of absorbing even the lower range of frequencies. 

The use of a sculptural language breaks the symmetry of the circular conference room, giving the space a new dynamism, but also new metaphorical resonance.

The ceiling recalls the incessant movement of sand dunes, and the lighting system reflects the circadian rhythm of sunrise and sunset. The wooden wave panels on the walls change rhythm according to the acoustic optimization of the circular space, but they also symbolically represent the mission of the UN to promote and facilitate peace and diplomacy.

Peia Associati’s architectural design interprets the assembly space in all its physical and institutional complexity. WOOD-SKIN, thanks to its innovative technology that provides the solution to the most complex design challenges, complements the architecture both functionally and aesthetically.