The River and its Double

Topographic imagination applied: the award-winning renaturalization design for river Aire near Geneva, Switzerland.


  • May 2018   approx. CHF 49.00 | eur 48.00


Title Information

Edited by Georges Descombes, Julien Descombes, Corinne Van Cauwenberghe, Vincent Correnti, and François Gerber

1st edition

, 2018

Text English, French, and German


approx. 256 pages, 80 color and 100 b/w illustrations

18 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-081-7


South of Geneva, Switzerland, river Aire runs across a plain that for centuries has been agricultural land. From the late 19th century, the waterway has been embanked for flood protection, causing also the gradual loss of habitat for a large variety of plants and animals. In 2001, decisions were taken to re-naturalize the river. Yet rather than to merely reconstruct its former natural bed, Superpositions, the association of firms commissioned with the project, applied “topographic imagination”, a method termed by American landscape designer Elissa Rosenberg. It combines the embanked channel with a newly designed pasture landscape. The channel indicates a work in progress and serves as a reference line that makes “before” and “after” traceable.
This new book documents this much recognized, award-winning renaturalization project with drawings, images of construction work and of the new waterway. Essays and comments by international contributors Jean-Marc Besse, Lorette Coen, Gerorges Descombes, G. Mathias Kondolf, Elissa Rosenberg, Gilles A. Tiberghien, and Marc Treib demonstrate how the restored river Aire has been upgraded to become again a characteristic feature of this landscape on the fringe of the city.

Authors & Editors

Jean-Marc Besse

Corinne Van Cauwenberghe

 is a civil engineer and a director with B+C Engineers in Geneva.

Lorette Coen

Vincent Correnti

 is a civil engineer and head of underground and road construction with ZS Ingénieurs civils in Geneva.

Georges Descombes

 is an architect and landscape designer, and a professor of architecture University of Geneva. He has taught as a visiting professor also at Amsterdam’s Berlage Institut, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA.

Julien Descombes

 is an architect and landscape designer and co-founder of Atelier Descombes Rampini in Geneva.

François Gerber

 works as an environmental engineer with BIOTEC Biologie appliquée in Delémont, Switzerland.

G. Mathias Kondolf

Elissa Rosenberg

Gilles A. Tiberghien

Marc Treib