Events and Action: The Red Cross Park, Geneva

Events and Action: The Red Cross Park, Geneva

Over six months, several events were planned for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Geneva. The process promotes discussion, brainstorming, ideas and aspirations of the IFRC staff members, and their neighbours for the future park. 

The IFRC Park project is based on a participatory process involving staff, neighbours and the public administration. A series of events has been developed for the participatory process, starting in August 2022 and going all the way to February 2023. 

urbz conducted these  events to solicit reflection and feedback from the IFRC employees and the local residents about the new park project and their association with the site and the neighborhood. So far, more than 60 interviews have been conducted with several IFRC staff members, neighbors, collectives and associations. The process included critical and open conversations with people sharing their opinions, ideas and aspirations. The urbz team has also spent time on site observing and interacting with users focussing on their existing uses of the shared spaces and their expectations for the community park. 

The participatory process began with a kickoff workshop with the Petit-Saconnex residents’ association, the neighborhood in Geneva in which the headquarter of IFRC is located. This workshop was attended by twenty-one members of the association and served as an opportunity to explain the project and its intentions and have discussions on what is to be kept and what could be improved. The Kickoff workshop was followed by six months of workshops with multiple focus areas such as : Environment, Community, and Security.

To involve the staff into the participatory process, a staff party was organized. This party brought together the IFRC staff and the wider neighbourhood to publicly launch the participatory process and included guided tours of the first project exhibition, site visits, music, BBQ and “a cocktail for a story” stand. To ensure  a continued involvement of the staff members,  Brown-bag discussions were conducted by the urbz team during lunch break to focus on key relationships, like the one of the IFRC to its local environment, of the HQ to the field and to the ICRC and Museum. 

To make the process more interactive, exhibitions were organized to bring together different references from around the world and encouraged the staff and residents to brainstorm collectively on the ideas for the development of the park. The urbz team has so far held four exhibits that spanned six months and concentrate on different aspects of the process which include, the introduction of the project, discussions on various parks and gardens across the globe, concepts and landscape principles and discussions on the diagrammatic plans. 


Finally, three exploratory themed walks contributed to the development of diverse perspectives on the project's perimeter and beyond. It included a sensory explorative walk, a part of the humanitarian trail linking IFRC to ICRC and a walk exploring local biodiversity on the perimeter.

These events gave people a platform to express their connection and disconnection with the existing IFRC building, the forest and the neighbourhood in general.


"Only people in the neighbourhood know this forest."

"I discovered a small forest behind the federation building only during covid when I had the urge to walk all over the neighbourhood.I did not know it existed before."

 "I have lived in the neighbourhood for 35 years, and I have never entered the IFRC. I did not know the cafeteria was open to the public."

"I was a school janitor for a long time. I know the forest under the Federation. It feels good and reminds me of the mountain forests where I was born."

"There are only parks in the neighbourhood, and we do not need another clean up, concrete park. We must keep the forest wild!"

Along with these events the participatory process includes an audiovisual documentation of the site and users. A teaser was also produced and shared with all staff members along with the poster announcing the Staff Party and Park project public kickoff. All the video documentation can be accessed on youtube. A website dedicated to the project is also created and provides information on the project along with an agenda of events, a newsroom and visual content (photo, video, maps and illustrations).  The urbz team has also produced a visual identity for the project, including a logo and posters. 

In parallel, the urbz team is analyzing the spatial, physical and environmental features of the site and giving count of the findings through a series of plans, which indicate the potential scope of the landscaping intervention.  Autocad and PDF files that were provided by the IFRC and the architects of the HQ building were complemented by data from SITG as well as from our own observation.  These documents are compiled into a series of plans that frame possible interventions. An historical survey of the site, including maps, photos and narratives was produced.