Henning Larsen Architects will design ESS, Europe’s largest research project

Henning Larsen Architects has been selected to design the European Spallation Source research centre. In a large international design contest, two winners were chosen: the concept by the Henning Larsen consortium, and the concept by the BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group consortium. In the end, HLA was selected to develop the final design.

The ESS is Europe’s largest science current project. It will be the world-leading research facility for materials research and life science with neutrons.

After an international design contest, ESS has chosen Henning Larsen Architects as the architectural partner to design the ESS facility. The concept was considered to show “great skill and sensitivity”, a strong campus concept, and a combination of human and dramatic scale.

The Henning Larsen Architects consortium included the companies COBE, SLA, as well as the engineering enterprises Buro Happold, NNE Pharmaplan and Transsolar. This team will now be assigned to develop the final design of the ESS premises.

-  The flexibility, human scale and campus-like layout of the work submitted by Henning Larsen Architects will give us an excellent base for developing a functional and variable work-place suited to the scientists everyday needs. Featuring a symbolic building, it will also give dignity and (shine) to reflect the future ESS importance in the European scientific landscape, says Colin Carlile, the ESS CEO.

-  I am also particularly proud over the very high quality and creative thinking that have permeated all the submitted concepts. The amount of ingenuity and beauty that have been submitted by these large number of leading firms participating in the design contest has simply been impressive, and will provide much inspiration.

The process of designing the ESS architectural design and surrounding landscaping is still in an early stage. The final architectural design will be developed in the coming year.

-  The choice of an architectural partner for the design of the ESS facility is a large step. It will mean that we can start the detailed planning of the construction needed to move ahead, says Kent Hedin, Head of the ESS Conventional Facilities Division.

The choice was preceded by an international design contest, in which two winning concepts were chosen by the jury. The second winner, besides the Team Henning Larsen Architects concept, was the concept by the Team BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. The BIG concept was selected because of an “extraordinarily strong design idea, integrating the building complex with the surrounding landscape”, expressed in an “emblematic building”.

After development of the winning concepts with the goal of identifying feasibility, the HLA Team was selected for the continued process of designing the ESS.

Short facts on the design contest:

The international design contest was conducted during the second half of 2012, and the choice of architectural partner was done in February 2013. In the contest, a large number of recognised architectural firms, and landscaping companies submitted expressions of interest. From these, five architectural consortia were selected to submit design concepts.

The members of the contest jury were selected to represent both ESS and important stakeholders:

  • Inga Hallén – architect SAR/MSA, Director of the
    Department of Cityplanning, Lund
  • Charlotte Lindström – Director of Public Places and Facilities Kristianstad, appointed representative of Region Skåne
  • BG Svensson - CEO Science Village Scandinavia (formerly Lundamark AB)
  • Colin Carlile - CEO ESS AB
  • Matti Tiirakari - Director of Administration ESS AB
  • Örjan Larsson - Senior Consultant ESS AB
  • Kent Hedin - Head of Conventional Facilities Division ESS AB

After careful evaluation of the submitted concepts, the contest jury choose two winning concepts: the concept by Team BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and the concept by Team Henning Larsen Architects. These concepts were considered to have equally strong, but different qualities.

After development and re-working of the winning concepts, the new concepts were evaluated based on the criteria quality, cost, flexibility and functionality, aesthetic values and proposal for collaboration model with ESS AB. In this evaluation, both concepts received the same score for aesthetic values, but the concept by Team HLA received the highest score regarding aspects such as functionality, flexibility, cost, and proposed collaboration model, and was therefore selected for the continued development of the architectural and landscaping design.

For more information, please visit the ESS web site:

Downloadable high resolution press images in the ESS Media Bank:


More information about the international design contest:


For more information, please contact:

Colin Carlile, CEO ESS. E-mail: colin.carlile.esss.se, tel +46 (0)761 33 33 99
Kent Hedin, Head of Conventional Facilities. E-mail: kent.hedin@esss.se. Tel. +46 (0)46 888 30 58
Marianne Ekdahl, Communications Officer Press & Politics, ESS. E-mail marianne.ekdahl@esss.se. Tel. +46 (0)46 888 30 66


The European Spallation Source – the next generation facility for materials research and life science

The European Spallation Source (ESS) will be a multi-disciplinary research laboratory based on the world’s most powerful neutron source. ESS can be likened to a large microscope, where neutrons are used instead of light to study materials – ranging from polymers and pharmaceuticals to membranes and molecules – to gain knowledge about their structure and function. ESS will be around 30 times better than existing facilities, opening up new possibilities for researchers in for example health, environment, climate, energy, transport sciences and cultural heritage.

ESS is an intergovernmental research infrastructure project, and it will be built in Lund in southern Scandinavia. Currently 17 European countries are Partners in the ESS project, and will take part in the construction, financing and operation of the ESS. The Partner Countries are: Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

The European Spallation Source ESS AB is a state-owned limited liability company, today owned by the host countries Sweden and Denmark. ESS AB is currently working on finalizing the ESS technical design, planning the future research at ESS, preparing for construction, and planning the future international ESS organisation. This is done in collaboration with around 60 Partner Laboratories, research institutes, and universities around the world. During 2013, the ongoing Pre-Construction Phase goes over into Construction, and the ground-break is planned for 2014. The first neutrons will be produced in 2019 and the facility will be fully operational around 2025.

ESS is expected to support a user community of at least 5000 European researchers and will have great strategic importance for the development of the European Research Area. Near by there will be complementary laboratories, such as the synchrotron MAX IV in Lund and XFEL and PETRAIII in Hamburg.

About Us

European Spallation Source, ESS, will be a multi-disciplinary research facility based on the world’s most powerful neutron source. The main facility is under construction in Lund, Sweden, with a Data Management and Software Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. Construction started in 2014 and the user programme for researchers will begin in 2023. The European Spallation Source ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) currently has 15 member- and observer countries.