snøhetta's landscape design for the MAX IV laboratory is set to open in sweden snøhetta's landscape design for the MAX IV laboratory is set to open in sweden
apr 21, 2016

snøhetta's landscape design for the MAX IV laboratory is set to open in sweden

snøhetta’s landscape design for the MAX IV laboratory is set to open in sweden
image © snøhetta




‘MAX IV’ is a high-performance synchrotron radiation laboratory, currently under construction on the outskirts of lund, sweden. the advanced research venue forms the first part of the region’s vast ‘science city’ development. MAX IV is a national laboratory operated jointly by the swedish research council and lund university. the main components of the new synchrotron facility will be two electron storage rings. the largest ring has a circumference of 528 meters and a free electron laser fed by a 250 meter-long linear accelerator. in 2011, snøhetta was commissioned to design the landscape architecture for the facility, which will open in the summer of 2016.

the advanced research venue forms the first part of the region’s ‘science city’ development
image © ABML4




the design of the landscape is based on four important criteria: ground vibrations, mass balance, storm water management, and plant selection and maintenance. these aspects are explained in more detail below.


1. ground vibrations — the tolerance for vibrations in the ground is critical for the use of a synchrotron. the dynamics group (researchers and engineers) discovered through testing that the surrounding highway (E22) was causing vibrations that could influence the experiments in the laboratories. consequently, a plan was developed to create slopes and undulations to reduce the amount of ground vibrations.

the main components of the new synchrotron facility will be two electron storage rings
image © max IV




2. mass balance — a cut and fill strategy was needed to keep the existing masses on site, allowing for the option of potentially reverting the land to agricultural use in future. by uploading the digital 3D-model directly into the GPS-controlled bulldozers, the design team was able to relocate the masses to their final position in one operation. by september 2011, approximately 60% of the mounds were created and no masses were transported off site. the last section of the wave pattern will be finished in 2016.


3. storm water management — the city planning department restricts the quantity of water permitted to run into lund’s pipe lines. consequently, the earth works needed to collect and store water on site.

the facility is located near the swedish city of lund
image © klas andersson




4. plant selection and maintenance — the facility has a 25-year maintenance contract with the client. the discovery of the nearby natural reserve area at kungsmarken made it possible to use a selection of natural species by harvesting hay and spreading it on the new, hilly landscape. this gives plants up to five growing seasons until the completion of the project in summer 2016. the maintenance strategy includes a combination of grazing sheep and conventional machines suitable for meadowland.

the design of the landscape is primarily based on ground vibrations
image © snøhetta




3D-modelling was used in developing the design layout, a configuration established by extracting the nature of vibrations into rational values inserted in a generic model. in plan, intersecting tangents radiating from the major storage ring form the first basis of the wave pattern. these align with the positions of potential future laboratories. the starting points were defined by 10 to 40 meter vibration wavelengths and a 4.5 meter amplitude. a second set of waves was established from a spiral movement centered in the storage ring merging with the site boundary. a digital model enabled continuous testing of the pattern’s effect on mitigating the ground vibrations.

a plan was developed to create slopes and undulations to reduce the amount of vibration
image © snøhetta




the step from advanced geometry to fabrication is still one of the largest challenges we face in architecture today,’ states snøhetta. ‘in MAX IV, the process was like having a giant 3D printer producing the project on a 1:1 scale. the high-tech research facility together with the low-tech meadow-land creates the iconic image of the waves that protects the research facility from the vibrations. the digital model gets a final analog interpretation through the hand of the machine operator and native meadow grasses to tell a fun and functional story of this research laboratory for the local community.’


MAX IV is situated on a public green site and forms the first part of a larger redevelopment northeast of lund. the large-scale project intends to turn agricultural land into a ‘science city’, that also features a new housing complex.

the largest ring has a circumference of 528 meters
image © ABML4

3D-modelling was used in developing the design layout
image © ABML4

MAX IV is situated on a large green site
image © ABML4 / felix gerlach



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