MAX IV Laboratory Landscape
Functional transformation


Landscape Architecture


The MAX IV is the first part of a larger transformation of the area northeast of Lund in Sweden, aiming to turn agricultural land into a ‘Science City’. The creation of a new, green public park rather than a fenced, introverted research center makes a difference in the public realm. The MAX IV site is a green site, and the image of the meadow vegetation on sloping hills as a recreational area is setting a new standard for research facilities’ outdoor areas.

Technical details

Public Space, Workspace, Master Planning, Park & Garden
Lund, Sweden

Fastighets AB ML 4


Tyrens engineers

19 hectares park
Architects - research facility

Fojab Architects AB

Photo: Cecilia Holm

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

The development of the landscape architecture design is based on four important criteria:

1 – Mitigating ground vibrations

Testing led by researchers and engineers revealed that traffic on the neighboring highway (E22) was causing ground vibrations that could influence the experiments in the laboratories. By creating slopes and a more chaotic surface, the amount of ground vibrations has been reduced.

2 - Mass balance

With focus on optimizing the reuse of the excavated masses on site, a cut and fill strategy was employed. This secures the option of reversing the land to agricultural use when the synchrotron is no longer on site. 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 operations, and no masses were transported off site.

3 – Storm water management

The city planning department of Lund restricts the quantity of water permitted to run into the city’s pipelines, and water management inside the site’s boundaries. Dry and wet ponds are therefore designed for both the 1-year and the 100-year storm water.

4 – Plant selection and maintenance

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. The maintenance strategy includes a combination of grazing sheep and conventional machines suitable for meadow-land.

Aerial view of the MAX IV Lab Landscape under construction. The courtyard with the new landscape labyrinth is a 16.000m2 outdoor space.

The main shape of the building, which contains the laboratory and the storage rings, is generated from a simple cylinder shape.

The circle is twisted and raised which results in the creation of a dynamic shape based on a Möbius strip - but in this case, more than a strip but an actual volume.

Photo: Cecilia Holm

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

On the MAX IV Lab site, ground vibrations are commonly created by wavelengths between 10 to 40m in height and follow the surface of the ground. The flatter the landscape, the more likely these vibrations will interfere with the scientific experiments in the laboratories. This knowledge initiated a distribution of numerous mounds to create a desired uneven topography, leading to a bold pattern, manage the water run-off and mass balance on site.

The meadow vegetation takes 3-5 years to establish and is still a work in progress

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

The landscape labyrinth in the courtyard. The plants are chosen for the wind sheltered courtyard, which creates a better micro climate

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

3D-modelling proved crucial for several reasons. The design layout was established by extracting the nature of vibrations into rational values inserted in a generic model (Grasshopper; a Rhino plug-in). 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, and the starting points were defined by 10 to 40m vibration wavelengths and a 4.5m amplitude. The Dynamics group stressed the fact that the more chaotic combinations of waves, the better.

A second set of waves was established from a spiral movement centered in the storage ring merging with the site boundary. Our digital model enabled continuous testing of the pattern’s effect on mitigating the ground vibrations.

Photo: Jenny

The step from advanced geometry to fabrication is still one of the largest challenges we face in design today. 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 meadowland creates the iconic image of the waves that protect 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 maintained by sheep to tell a fun and functional story of this research laboratory.

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

Photo: Cecilia Holm

Photo: Cecilia Holm