Snøhetta’s MAX IV Laboratory Landscape Design will open in June on the edge of Lund, Sweden. Selected for the project in 2011, Snøhetta’s design fills 47-acres (19 hectares) of formerly agricultural lands northeast of the city, and is the first project in a larger masterplan to transform the Brunnshög area into a “Science City.” The MAX IV national laboratory is a synchrotron facility with two electron storage rings, and is jointly operated by the Swedish Research Council and Lund University.
Snøhetta’s mountainous, wave-like design had several guiding strategies:
- Mitigate ground vibrations (a nearby highway generates sound waves that can disturb research, but are disrupted by the landscape conditions)
- Mass balance (to create the site’s wavelike form by shifting earth, not importing new soil)
- Storm water management (the city limits water usage and thus all water required must be managed through collection on site)
- Plant selection and maintenance (vegetation was imported from a nearby natural preserve, and conditions are maintained by sheep and conventional machines)
The careful planning for this project anticipates the site’s uncertain future, when the synchrotron is decommissioned. Currently, the site’s contractor, PEAB/ Whilborgs, will stay involved with the project through a 25-year maintenance contract.
“In MAX IV, the process was like having a giant 3D printer producing the project on a 1:1 scale,” says the architects. “The high-tech research facility together with the low-tech meadowland creates the iconic image of the waves that protects the research facility from the vibrations. The digital model gets an analog interpretation through the hand of the machine operator and native meadow grasses maintained by sheep to tell a fun and functional story of this research laboratory.”