High Energy Design

A Snøhetta-designed landscape takes shape around the MAX Lab IV particle accelerator

International Landscape Architecture
(© ABML4, Courtesy Snøhetta)
(© ABML4, Courtesy Snøhetta)

This synchrotron radiation laboratory—basically a fancy term for a type of particle accelerator—dubbed MAX IV is set to open outside of Lund, Sweden this summer. (If you want to get more technical, synchrotron radiation involves charged particles releasing electromagnetic energy when they’re forced to move fast along a curved path. Objects in space can naturally emit synchrotron radiation, too.)

Designed by Swedish-based architecture firm Fojab, with landscape design by Norway- and U.S.-based Snøhetta, the lab will hold two storage rings. They’re curved to allow charged particles to move close to the speed of light. The landscape design and larger ring—approximately 1732 feet in circumference—will open this summer. (We can’t help but point out that the lab bears a resemblance to the under-construction Apple 2 campus.)

In designing the landscape for the sloping 45 acre site, Snøhetta looked to the surrounding area (which is mostly agricultural) and the planned accelerator’s curves. Their design features waves of grass meadows forming mini-valleys oriented. Snøhetta focused on four key needs: minimize ground vibrations, include storm water management, define plant selection and maintenance, and reuse excavated land.

(© Snøhetta, courtesy Snøhetta)

(© Snøhetta, Courtesy Snøhetta)

“A cut and fill strategy was needed to keep the existing masses on site as it secures the option of reversing to agricultural use when the synchrotron no longer will be on the site,” said Snøhetta in a release. “By uploading the digital 3D-model directly into the GPS-controlled bulldozers, we were able to relocate the masses to their final position in one operation.”

Their design will include local grasses and feature two ponds (wet and dry) for storing storm water on site. Sheep will help maintain the meadows and the valleys will help with storm water management.


(© ABML4/Felix Gerlach, courtesy Snøhetta)

(© ABML4/Felix Gerlach, Courtesy Snøhetta)

Construction is wrapping up on the MAX IV Lab. (Ground breaking was in 2010.) The lab is part of Lund University and also operated by the Swedish Research Council and will replace the three previous synchrotron labs at the University—MAX I, II, and III.

Funding for the project is coming in part from Lund University, the Swedish Ministry of Education and Research, and the Swedish Research Council.

(© Snøhetta, courtesy Snøhetta)

(© Snøhetta, Courtesy Snøhetta)

There are many synchrotron radiation facilities around the world. The largest one is the famous CERN Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland with a 17-mile circumference.

Related Stories