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Despite its modest size, Geneva holds a significant global position, serving as an international nexus for commerce, peacemaking, and innovation. As a result of hosting many prominent organisations within its borders, the city faces unique urban planning and architectural challenges. Today, more than ever, Geneva’s architectural landscape is a fertile ground for rethinking commercial architecture, particularly the relationship between functionality and aesthetics. The BIRD’s transformation is a reflection of these shifts.


A landmark in Geneva's architectural landscape, the BIRD reflects the city's continuous journey of innovation and adaptation. Since its inception in 2002, the BIRD building has undergone several transformations, from its modernist beginnings to its current status as a contemporary business hub.

Renowned architect Norman Foster initially designed the BIRD building to provide functional office space in the city amidst its growth. Foster, famous for iconic works like The Dolder Grand Hotel in Zürich and the Millennium Bridge in London, incorporated his design ethos of seamlessly blending form and function, giving the BIRD timeless elegance and a clear sense of purpose. This architectural reference set the tone for the “Golden Rectangle” at the Blandonnet business centre, with two other buildings constructed there, mirroring Foster’s design.


For nearly 20 years, the BIRD has welcomed global organisations and companies in an ultra-functional and comfortable working environment. However, like other business centres, the BIRD found itself at a crossroads, faced with preserving its architectural heritage while embracing changing business needs. This is particularly true since the COVID-19 health crisis disrupted traditional work settings, leading to a shift towards telecommuting, coworking, and flexible offices.
“ Empty corridors, impersonal premises and an outdated decoration… Back in 2016, BIRD was a typical office building that you look forward to leaving at the end of your working day. We wanted this place to be different ”, remembers Jessica Graça, Senior Manager at Swiss Life Asset Management.

In light of this observation, the building owner embarked on a bold journey of revitalisation, reassessing the building's function as a collaborative space.


The building's communal areas underwent significant renovations, all aimed at improving the user’s well-being, encouraging social interaction, and promoting dialogue with the natural environment.

The lobby has undergone a complete opening of three stories in height. The result is a generous, open space, with a bright entrance that provides a warm welcome to all users.

Three distinct dining spaces have also been created, with special attention paid to interior design to craft three different atmospheres, all with the same emphasis on aesthetics and conviviality.

The green interior courtyard and the surroundings of the BIRD have been enhanced to bolster the connection with the natural environment and reclaim their central position within this space.

Finally, an entire floor has been transformed into a vibrant conference and meeting area. The PLAYGROUND now occupies 1000 m2, demonstrating a unique, playful, and modular design.

"Significant thought has been given to creating communal spaces that provide genuine added value. At BIRD, areas for relaxation and informal collaboration become focal points." underlines Hervé Rigal - Partner at BASE Design.

Multidisciplinary collaboration between architects, planners, and prospective partners made this rebirth possible:

  • BASE DESIGN’s branding and placemaking vision enabled the project to unfold beautifully, enrolling architecture firm Group8 and interior designers YKRA for a strong alliance of creativity and expertise.

  • Geneva-based architecture firm Group8, renowned for its work in urban design, edgy architecture and renovation contributed by carving out a new architectural strategy to the BIRD.

  • YKRA doubled down with their unmatched playfulness and edgy sense of interior design in the restaurants and, unmistakably, in the aptly named PLAYGROUND.

  • Outstanding professionals from hospitality (VOISINS) and nonprofits (Fondation Apprentis d’Auteuil) completed the alliance by offering insights on operationality and user experience.


In 2019, after two years of renovation, the BIRD looked beautiful inside out and provided the intended new dynamics of openness. However, despite these substantial transformations, the building somehow still lacked vibrancy according to its resident companies.

In the post-COVID era, it is pivotal to revisit not only a workplace’s envelope but also its users' experience. What should a dream workplace look like today, that makes every day worthwhile? The answer may be lengthy, but here are a few takes: it is a place where professionals can unleash their talents, be efficient and inspired, build strong collaborations, occasionally have fun, and find ways to ease their daily busy lives or recharge batteries.

" Our ambition is for the BIRD to be the bespoke work destination in Geneva, where everyone feels at home, whether self-employed, an employee or a manager."  - Jessica Graça

During this rejuvenating odyssey, the BIRD exceeded its traditional role as a mere business centre, evolving into a vibrant nexus of connectivity and community.

This placemaking paradigm acted as a catalyst for developing a high-end programme of hospitality and events. As a result, collaborations and partnerships with prominent innovation, business or cultural actors followed naturally.


Geneva's limited territory is prompting architects to innovate and maximise the use of the existing spaces. The revitalisation of the BIRD building showcases how architecture can transform existing structures to enhance the human experience beyond simple functionality.

" Optimism is fundamental in architecture. We must be in tune with human needs and find solutions to the challenges of an ever-evolving society. " - Adrien Besson, Founding Partner at Group8

Through bold vision and collaborative work, the BIRD's transformation has outlined the paradigm of architectural excellence as a prime example of successful placemaking, and has emerged as a beacon of innovation and inspiration in Geneva's commercial architecture landscape.

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Base Inauguration Bird Playground 37
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