Georges Descombes

Trailer of the portrait of architect Georges Descombes, laureate of the Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim 2021. Direction: Marie-Eve Hildbrand Editing: Matthias Staub Music: Pierre-Yves Lejeune

Georges Descombes (1939, Geneva) is an “architect of landscape”. After formative years with Pier Luigi Nervi e Marc-Joseph Saugey in Geneva, Zurich, and London, Georges Descombes returned to Geneva in 1975 where his academic career began and he set up the CREX (Centre de Réalisation Expérimentale) at what was then the École d’Architecture de Genève. His teaching activities repeatedly drew him to the most prestigious universities of the world, as Harvard University, Graduate School of Design di Cambridge. Alongside his academic work, he executed projects in the landscape which were invariably guided by the history of the location. Among these projects, there are the Parc de Lancy, the Geneva section of the Swiss Path around Lake Lucerne and the Bijlmer Monument in Amsterdam. In 2000, he began working on the Confluence district of Lyon, Antwerp’s southern docks and the Quai de Matériaux in Brussels.
During that time, he also began to study the renaturing of the River Aire landscape in the canton of Geneva, which over the course of its execution until it was completed in 2015 became one of the most emblematic projects. In doing so, he asked what it means to make a landscape in an urban environment today.

A believer in strong gestures, Georges Descombes invariably strove to arouse emotion, driven by his view of architecture as ‘par excellence an art of experience’.