Case study: European Spallation Source Research Facility


The ESS research facility, designed by Henning Larsen in collaboration with COBE and SLA, will become the world’s first most advanced centre for neutron-based research. Located in Lund, Sweden, it will contain state-of-the-art  technologies in carefully designed spaces to complement the facility.

Research at ESS is expected to commence in 2019, while the entire facility will be completed by 2025. It is expected that between 2,000 and 4,000 scientists will use the facilities each year. The technology can be used for research in everything from medicine to archaeology and sustainable energy sources.

The Site

The European Spallation Source will provide 100,000 square metres of laboratories, offices, meeting spaces, and a lecture hall along with a 600 metre long proton accelerator and a 180 metre long neutron hall. Compared to other such facilities like the Large Hadron Collider, which is 27 km in circumference, the ESS’s accelerator is considerably smaller, but it is planned to be much more powerful.

The Details The architecture is inspired by one of the most important elements in the spallation process, the tungsten disc. The disc and the tungsten metal are used as visual metaphors that mark the centre of the research facility: a large, circular roof above the hall that holds the tungsten disc.

This will become a point of orientation for the campus area at ESS and it will make ESS stand out in relation to the research facility Max IV and Lund Science Village. Using new technologies like spallation technology, the ESS will be able to create brighter neutron beams more efficiently.

The facility will also provide living quarters, guest residences and a public visitor centre.

The Concept In a statement about the winning proposal, ESS writes: “The proposal shows great skill and sensitivity in creating in-between spaces and a strong urban context. There is strength in the campus concept […] There is a human scale represented as well as a dramatic scale in the size of the roof structure.”

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