Headquarters of the World Health Organisation (WHO)

The objective of this competition was to construct a new headquarters for the World Health Organization (WHO) for around 1,000 civil servants.

This competition was approved by the International Union of Architects (UIA).

Competition closed. Results announced in 1960.
Keywords : Health, Institutional, Urban Landscape

Theme and objectives

The presence of preventable diseases and the existence of poor levels of health in any country constitute both a danger for the whole world and an obstacle to peace. To respond to these issues and provide lasting solutions, the United Nations created the World Health Organization in 1948. This organisation is open to all countries of the world. The mission of the WHO is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”.

The objective for this competition was to find the best architectural design for the construction of the new WHO headquarters in Switzerland. This new building was to be used to house the services of the Secretariat, but also to benefit from meeting rooms for its Executive Council and for the various committees which met there regularly.

Jury Members

  • Sven Gottfrid Markelius, Architect, SWEDEN;

  • Gio Ponti, Architect, ITALY;

  • Sir Howard Robertson, Architect, UNITED KINGDOM;

  • Pierre Vago, Secretary General of the International Union of Architects, FRANCE;

  • Pr. Eugène Aujaleu, Chairman of the WHO Executive Board, FRANCE;

  • J. Dutoit, Head of the Public Works Department of the Canton of Geneva;

  • Dr. Candau, Executive Director of the WHO, BRAZIL.


Alternate members:


  • Hakon Ahlberg, Architect, SWEDEN;

  • Pr. Eugène Beaudoin, Architect, FRANCE;

  • Albert Cingria, Architect, SWITZERLAND.


Architects or architectural firms selected by the WHO on the advice of a group of architectural experts were invited to take part in this competition.

The following architects were invited to take part in this international competition: 

  • Arne Jacobsen from DENMARK; 
  • Raymond Lopez from FRANCE;
  • Van Den Broek and Bakema from the NETHERLANDS;
  • Antonio Bernasconi from ITALY;
  • Kenzo Tange from JAPAN; 
  • Eero Saarinen from the USA;
  • Yorke, Rosenberg and Mardall from the UNITED KINGDOM;
  • Hentrich and Petschnigg from GERMANY;
  • A. E. Reidy from BRAZIL; 
  • Viljo Rewell from FINLAND; 
  • Haefeli, Moser and Steiger from SWITZERLAND;
  • Jean Tschumi from SWITZERLAND;
  • Jean Dubuisson from FRANCE;
  • Hugh Stubbins from the USA; 
  • Gueorgui Gzadov from the USSR.