HSBC Quai des Bergues, Geneva

This prestigious renovation project for HSBC Private Bank in Geneva aimed to create a friendly working environment for employees and a high-end client facing front office. It involved merging seven structurally independent, historical buildings into a single office complex, featuring contemporary architectural design and spectacular views of Lake Geneva and the city’s old town.


  • Geneva, Switzerland


  • HSBC Private Bank Switzerland

Project Status

  • Completed in 2014


Merging Seven Buildings into a Single High-Performance Building

On a prime lake-front setting on Geneva’s historic Quai des Bergues, the 16,300m2 building unites five of the bank’s Geneva offices into a spacious workplace for around 650 employees, with luxurious meeting rooms, private banking and dining facilities. The interior is divided into two complementary but distinct areas, one for staff, and the other for clients. Although a key aim of the project was to revive the historic buildings and integrate modern functions, sustainability was an essential consideration and the project had to align with Swiss energy regulations. WSP provided HSBC with quality control and project management linked to commissioning the project and moving staff into their new offices.

Winner of the esteemed FX International Interior Design Awards 2014, this Class A office building has become one of the most efficient buildings in Switzerland, a considerable achievement in a country noted for its strict energy regulations.

The building was renovated in accordance with LEED Gold standard and the Swiss MINERGIE quality label. There was a particular focus on insulation, ventilation and optimal use of renewable energy, and an innovative cooling system design was implemented using the city’s lake water. The building is triple-glazed, an unusual feature in Switzerland, and highly insulated to reduce energy consumption. A second basement was incorporated into the design in order to house a heat exchange and power plant. Natural materials used in construction, such as oak and stone, were locally sourced.

The new building consists of a two-storey basement, with the ground floor and seven storeys above ground. The glazed atrium is a central element of the building. The mix of glass and timber in the building structure creates a visual identity for the office and unifies the previously separate structures. The glass façade admits an abundance of natural light on each floor and a four-metre wide green wall on the West side of the 20-metre-high atrium brings nature into the office space.

The workspace is designed to accommodate open plan layouts to improve interaction and communication between employees, with the number of individual offices kept to a minimum. In order to maximise open space area, 40% of the building’s structural elements were replaced and all but one of the cores was moved. The building also incorporates a TIER III Data centre and a trading floor, as well as high-end client facilities.

A particularly interesting feature of this unusual development is the staircase that is designed so that it appears to be ‘floating’ between floors.