On 18 June, the official opening ceremony will be attended by the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Ignazio Cassis. The evening programme for 19 June will focus on the economy, business and tourism. On 20 June, culture, education and science will be in the spotlight. Nearly 800 guests from the worlds of politics, business, science, culture and academia will take part.
The embassy was built by Swiss architects Brauen & Wälchli, based in Lausanne. The architectural ensemble pays tribute to the historical, urban setting. In 1946, Switzerland leased the turquoise-and-white neoclassical city palace to house its embassy in Moscow, purchasing it in 2005 and refurbishing it to its original appearance of 1892, faithfully restoring its original façade. A modern building complex has been built adjacent to the old palace, creating the space for an inner courtyard. A distinctive feature of the building complex are its exposed beams and floor-to-ceiling glass panels facing the inner courtyard, symbolising openness and transparency and exemplifying Swiss savoir-faire and design. The surface of the inner courtyard, composed of Valser quartzite, was sourced in Switzerland, while the wooden structures, made of oak, were processed there. The project, called 'Berner Rosen', was carried out in accordance with sustainable development (natural lighting of all the premises, controlled ventilation with energy recovery and waste heat recovery system).
Seen from the sky, the surface of the inner courtyard evokes the map of Switzerland. On this improvised national map, the architects planted an apple tree of the 'Berner Rosen' variety, as a tribute to the gardens of the tsarist era. Carrying on from this idea, Swiss artist Anne-Julie Raccoursier planted small 'ambassador' trees grown from cuttings from the original tree in Moscow in each of the Swiss cantons, in places where Switzerland and Russia have had or still have special ties. Called 'Bi-Location', the project highlights the multifaceted ties that have existed between Switzerland and Russia since 1814. The work was commissioned by the Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics and the Federal Office of Culture, following a competition.
Safeguarding of Switzerland's interests
The Embassy of Switzerland in Moscow is one of the largest and most important among Switzerland's diplomatic representations worldwide (80 employees), along with those in Washington DC, London, Paris and Beijing. For the first time, the new embassy will bring together under one roof all of the actors involved in promoting Switzerland's interests in Russia: the Swiss diplomatic and consular representation, Swiss Business Hub, Pro Helvetia and Switzerland Tourism. This will allow a more effective use of the embassy's physical infrastructure, improve operational coherence and enhance the utilisation of synergies, making it possible to provide better support for Swiss citizens and the more than 200 Swiss companies operating in Russia. The opening has been sponsored by more than 20 Swiss companies.
The implementation of the principle 'one Switzerland = one foreign policy = one local representation' is part of the foreign policy strategy of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The bringing together under the same roof of different units of the Federal Administration and federal actors whose activities are relevant to foreign policy, increases the effectiveness and coherence of Swiss foreign policy and allows the use of synergies.
The Swiss Confederation has made an important investment of CHF 42.8 million in the new embassy, reflecting the vitality and robustness of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Russia.