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The IFRC Environment

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

The environment in the Community Park project refers to the physical, ecological and civic context in which the IFRC is located. It evokes the interconnected framework that includes the building, the forest and the common spaces around the building that are shared by other users (residents, institutions and associations).

The preservation and maintenance of the environment is a shared common goal for all those who inhabit or use it. By its very definition, an environment is the protective layer that surrounds its object. Making the well-being of both, mutually interdependent. Traditional definitions of the environment refer to it as the surrounding context of any object, person or phenomenon. The environment is that which sustains, protects and nurtures what exists inside it. Conversely, becoming aware of the environment around us is a spontaneous step towards self-awareness. An important aspect of such self-awareness is the need to help, maintain and sustain that environment.

The moment an institution sets out to explore its immediate environment - it opens the door to explore itself. This is very much the spirit in which the Community park project operates. It raises questions about how the environment in which it exists can become a better context and thus help it grow as an institution. It steps into the context in a spirit of exploration and self-discovery.

The IFRC building is surrounded by a forest, a village, people and parks. The forest is thus - like all forests - inhabited and used by people. Making the forest the focus of the proposed community park, is an invitation to all its constituent members to become part of this process.

For the project, it is not a contradiction to speak about the environment of the forest and the environment of the inhabitants and users of the forest. They belong to the same world. Forests thrive when used. The users of the forest know its value as a protective environment and want to maintain it. The forest responds by becoming a stronger and more protective environment to all its users.

The Community Park project builds on this relationship and normalizes the urban forest as an intrinsic part of the environment of the IFRC.

In the ongoing preliminary conversations almost all respondents, whether they worked in the IFRC or were inhabitants and users from the neighbourhood, said that to them, environment meant the urban forest. This forest was evoked as a site of leisure, as a soothing presence, a vantage point to see the city of Geneva from a fresh perspective, as a meeting point, a refuge, a sacred spot and a treasure of shared memories. Its nature as a forest - free, spirited and independent - was valued deeply. At the same time, it was also a place of active human presence, a true environment for all its users. This symbiotic relationship is the core vision for the Community Park as expressed in the voices of its users. This is in fact, the very definition of ‘Environment’.

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