Geneva, Fall 2023

Edelweiss House explores the construction of a new greenhouse solution in Geneva, not in the style of the 19th-century building type, where Western societies sought to replicate the warmth of milder climates through fossil fuels. Instead, we propose a climatically inverted approach—a cold greenhouse befitting the 21st century. Here, the societies of a West that has become too warm aim to emulate the coolness of milder climates, perhaps reminiscent of times past, thanks to renewable energies. In contrast to the 19th-century “Palm House,” we propose designing an “Edelweiss House”—a structure creating a cold microclimate within the currently scorching macro-climate of the West.

The intention of the studio is to provide students with both the theoretical and practical means to respond to the transformations of climates resulting from global warming in terms of habitability while striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit ongoing global warming. After a few weeks of research, students analyzed and applied practical architectural solutions to survive in increasingly hot temperatures while implementing low-carbon strategies to reduce the energy consumed in building operation and through the type of materials and construction to limit CO2 emissions. This initial climatic approach to architecture was combined with an ecological approach through an understanding of the physiology of living beings and plants in terms of chemical, physical, and biological exchanges, light, humidity, temperature, and nutrition required for survival.

The semester was organized around a balance between research and design, enabling architectural solutions to be based on a solid understanding of the climatic, chemical, physical, and biological phenomena involved. The proposed pavilion, a new contemporary Edelweiss House for the 21st century, was collectively built by the students at the end of the semester.


Studio led by Philippe Rahm (Philippe Rahm Architectes)
Assisted by Valentin Calame


Sawako Bolch, Larisa Coman, Mariia Fomina, Frida Law, Giada Pettenati, Sofia Tapia Buchelli, Célia Tourette, Ana Karina Zepeda Aranda

Images © HEAD – Genève, Valentin Calame