Cité du Lignon


Types of mandate

Historical project






Georges Addor, Jacques Bolliger,
Dominique Julliard, Louis Payot



Carried out between 1963 and 1971, the “Cité du Lignon” operation was part of the Housing Action Plan of the Department of Public Works, which was confronted with the exponential demographic growth of the canton of Geneva. Following the construction of the Meyrin and Onex developments, the project for this new complex was ambitious: it included the construction of a housing estate for 10,000 inhabitants, supplemented by numerous public facilities. For the layout of this colossal operation, recognised as the largest in Switzerland, the architects tested an alternative to the orthogonal grid, the model most often used in new residential areas. The master plan was thus structured into three rental buildings, two twin towers of 26 and 30 floors, and a single block building of 11 to 15 floors, which developed along an uninterrupted broken line of more than one kilometre, following the perimeter and slope of the plot.

This layout system makes it possible to avoid the buildings facing each other and enables the sun to shine into the apartments. The vast central space is partially occupied by the facilities and has been converted into a public park, the “sunny garden” that the architects considered essential for creating a pleasant living environment. This pioneering achievement is remarkable not only for its location but also for its technical and constructional quality. Due to the significance of the operation, at all levels of installation, systems, elements and components were studied with a view to simplifying the construction process.

From the reinforced concrete lamellar structure, built for the first time in Switzerland according to the French industrialized process known as “tunnel formwork”, to the design of the 100,000m2 of curtain walls made of prefabricated factory blocks, we consistently reconnect with the notions of industrialisation and rationalisation, fundamental in the Glorious Thirties. Recognized as a record-breaking project, both in terms of quality and quantity, Le Lignon has recently been protected by a site plan which aims to preserve the qualities of the complex.


Giulia Marino, “Cité du Lignon”, in Catherine Courtiau (dir.) XXe- Un siècle d’architectures à Genève édité par Patrimoine suisse Genève sous la direction de Catherine Courtiau en 2009, pp. 440-441


This urban complex was singled out by the Xth UIA World Congress of Architects in Buenos Aires in 1969.