All our people at Ryder are given the opportunity to travel to Europe for an annual team trip. Morwenna Parkin, a designer in Technologies, discusses her first experience of a team trip to Switzerland.
Geneva is known as the world’s smallest metropolis and boasts one of the largest fresh water lakes in Europe.
At the Southern tip of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, it houses the headquarters of Europe’s United Nations and the Red Cross.
As the global centre for diplomacy and banking, Geneva ranks in the top five most expensive cities in the world. This international centre displays all kinds of architecture from 16th century to modern and all are sensitive to the stunning surroundings of the mountains and lakes.
On our first morning of exploration, we visited the famous lake - a beautiful destination, made even more stunning by the striking silhouette of Mont Blanc and the Alps. The lake also displayed the powerful 140m high, Jet L’eau - an impressive fountain which is a popular tourist landmark for the city but also acts as a pressure release water management system for many of the surrounding buildings.
The lake provides a serene and peaceful environment. On investigating the area on the edge of the lake, we discovered one of Geneva’s many parks. It was cleverly landscaped to be set back from the city and leads up to the World Trade Organisation building. Over a quarter of the city is covered with parks - clearly why it is often referred to as the city of parks.
We toured the old town overlooking the city, with pedestrianised cobbled streets, scenic squares and lots of homely restaurants, cafes, historical buildings and beautiful variances of 16th to 18th century limestone houses.
The houses cluster around St Peter’s Cathedral which is central to the old town and historically important as it was central to the reformation. The cathedral displays a fusion of architectural styles - with a gothic spire, a neo classical façade and romanesque features. The interior on the other hand, is austere with very little lavish decoration.
There is obviously a big contrast between the old town and the modern headquarters of the city architecturally, but both sides show Geneva to be a wealthy and important International city. The JTI headquarters is a building which really stood out for me. I found it innovative and modern - drawing reference from the Alps and Lake Geneva whilst responding to the low rise surrounding buildings to give it a strong identity.
The team particularly enjoyed the time spent in the central courtyard and noticed that the designers had cleverly incorporated a quilted façade to help with solar radiation. Greenery was also landscaped across the design and smoothly even linked the building to the children’s area.
The Universe of Particles museum at CERN was one of the highlights of the trip, allowing us to interact with contemporary physics. The building claims to be the tallest domed timber structure in the world at 27m high and the round exterior hints at the idea of global exploration. There was seemingly more use of timber in some of the more prestigious buildings and it was clear that the architects were being considerate towards sustainability and the environment.
We really liked the interactive chairs, maps, projections and panoramic films which were used to promote physics which along with the impressive architecture demonstrates that Geneva is definitely a pioneering and innovative city and is certainly advancing in both science and architecture.
Thank you to Ryder for the experience. We got to spend time having some fun and bonding further as a team whilst exploring a great city. Geneva surprised us with some real architectural gems and although it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit, in my opinion, it’s definitely worth a trip.