An urban plan for CERN

The GS Department has just initiated several preliminary studies with a view to the elaboration of an urban plan for CERN. The aim is to re-define the organisation of the Laboratory's infrastructures and give it a new lease of life where the top priorities are environmental protection and quality of life for all who work here.


When CERN was established in 1954, the land was made available to the Laboratory by the Host States for exclusively scientific purposes. The question as to how the infrastructures would be organised was not on the agenda. Buildings were erected one after another to meet the needs of one scientific project after another. Nearly all of CERN's financial resources were then poured into the construction of the LHC but hardly any were invested in its infrastructure.

"Back around 2000, we started realising how dilapidated certain buildings were becoming," notes Matti Tiirakari, who heads the Site Engineering and Management Group in the GS Department. But ageing buildings were not the only problem - even the way they are organised no longer meets our everyday requirements. Some areas are saturated or cater for a disparate set of activities, while others remain unoccupied. This lack of coherence often means that people have to take their cars, and in some places this causes parking and traffic problems. So it's important to rationalise the way these spaces are used. Moreover, many buildings no longer comply with insulation standards and some offices and empty spaces are heated for no good reason."

The campaign will be three-pronged, covering buildings, mobility (transportation and circulation) and landscaping. As Matti explains: "The launch of urban planning studies at CERN comes at an important time, with the Cantons of Geneva and Vaud currently working with the local authorities in Ain and Haute-Savoie on the Projet d’Agglomération franco-valdo-genevois, an urban planning project designed to create and organise a vast, cross-frontier urban zone, of which the CERN site will be just one component. So given the favourable context in the Host States and with the imminent arrival of the tram, the time and the circumstances could not be better for CERN to be developing an urban plan."

The plan should be ready by December 2013 and is set to re-design the Organization for the coming 30 years. Several preliminary studies are required, including a survey of mobility on and between the sites, which has just been entrusted to the University of Athens and will commence in July.




by Laëtitia Pedroso