Landing on the moon

For the national laboratory MAX IV in Lund in southern Sweden Snöhetta had to find innovative ideas to deal with the unique parameters. Several aspects were taken into consideration to design the 19 hectares park of the synchrotron radiation facility: mitigating ground vibrations of the nearby highways, storm water management and meeting the city’s ambitious sustainability goals. The MAX IV is the first part of a larger transformation of the area northeast of Malmö aiming to turn agricultural land into a ‚Science City’. The creation of a new, green public park rather than a fenced, introverted research centre makes a difference in public realm.

The landscape architecture design is based on four important criteria:

Mitigating ground vibrations

Creating slopes and a more chaotic surface reduces the amount of ground vibrations of the neighbouring highway. The flatter the landscape, the more likely the vibrations will interfere with scientific experiments in the laboratories. 3D modelling with Grasshopper – a Rhino plug-in – proved crucial for the arrangement of the sloping hills. The design layout was established by extracting the nature of vibrations into rational values inserted in a generic model. So the landscape designers found out the more chaotic combinations of waves, the better the noise reduction.

Mass balance

With a cut and fill strategy the landscape architects reused excavated masses on site. This secures the option of reversing the land to agricultural use, when the laboratory is no longer on site. By uploading the digital 3D model directly into the GPS-controlled bulldozers, the planners were able to relocate the masses to their final position.

Storm water management

The city planning department of Lund restricts water management inside the site’s boundaries. Dry and wet ponds gather water of 1-year and 100-year storm water.

Plant selection and maintenance

The discovery of a nearby natural reserve area 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 sheep and conventional machines.

The four design criteria leaded to a unique futuristic landscape, which corresponds with the surrounding context in a natural way. The image of the meadow vegetation on sloping hills as a recreational area is setting a new standard for research facilities’ outdoor areas.