42 rue du Rhône is a major refurbishment project located in central Geneva, creating two levels of retail, five office floors and a rooftop restaurant across four existing basement levels and eight upper floors. The building’s outdated facade has been entirely replaced with undulating glass taking its reference from the mountains of the Swiss region. Occupying a prime location on the exclusive Rue du Rhone, the desire to reduce the construction period and rent loss was significant driver for the client, which coupled with a restricting city centre site and public underground access led to the decision to retain and refurbish rather than redevelop.
While the building maintains its original use as a prime retail and commercial space, both the spatial arrangement and structure have been substantially adapted. The retention of the existing buildings restrictive floor to ceiling heights commanded creative solutions from the designers to ensure the servicing required of a exclusive development could be incorporated, as well as, the existing structure itself had to be substantially reengineered to allow the addition of a striking atrium in a space previously occupied by a cinema to bring light into the lower retail levels. Some features, such as the attractive old cinema steps, have been retained creating feature points among the rejuvenated retail areas.
Retail space occupying the lower levels has been created with maximum spatial planning flexibility, locating only sufficient walls as required for fire regulation purposes allowing the client to let the space in a way which most suits their clients and the market. Similarly the open plan office levels sit behind a repeating 3m facade pattern that permits subdividing and portioning should this be required at a later date.