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COMMUNE SAINT-GENIS-POUILLY
CERN AND L'AUTRE GENÈVE
Sarah Weber and Rebekka Neff
Bordering the Swiss frontier, the commune of Saint-Genis-Pouilly has become one of the most important towns on the outskirts of Geneva, absorbing the pressure of its expansion. Since real estate prices and rents here are still considerably more affordable than in Switzerland, the commune attracts a lot of international clientele commuting to Geneva. The resulting high growth rate has driven a scattered settlement, dissolving the historic market villages and giving way to copy-paste housing projects and other developments spread across the landscape. These are dormitory clusters and industrial quarters (techno parks), whose connection to Geneva still relies heavily upon individual transport, with a tram connection arriving only in 2020.

Saint-Genis-Pouilly is located within the area used by CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. The main entrance to the primary CERN campus (Meyrin) and the ATLAS experiment are located only 3 km from the center of Saint-Genis-Pouilly. The presence of this research laboratory has largely been responsible for the development of the community since the middle of the 1960s. As a pan-European project and international institution, CERN’s foundation was a collaborative effort to form a common base of knowledge at the cutting edge of particle physics. It embodies a wish for peace after two world wars and fittingly, it’s laboratories even span across two nation states.

The development of this cosmopolitan suburb in the orbit of a Geneva, raises the question of the meaning of the commons. What are the possible meanings and articulations of the communal and the common in this context? How can a recent development of common knowledge production such as CERN be reflected back in the territory?