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:


För mer information, kontakta:

Colin Carlile, CEO & Director-General, colin.carlile@esss.se,   46 46 888 30 33

Kent Hedin, Byggchef, Kent.hedin@esss.se,  46 46 888 30 58

Marianne Ekdahl, Communications Officer Press & Politics, marianne.ekdahl@esss.se,   46 46 888 30 66


European Spallation Source – en världsledande anläggning för materialforskning och livsvetenskaper

European Spallation Source (ESS) kommer att bli en flervetenskaplig forskningsanläggning baserad på världens mest kraftfulla neutronkälla. ESS kan liknas vid ett stort mikroskop, där man använder neutroner istället för ljus för att studera olika material – från plaster och läkemedel till motorer och molekyler – för att förstå hur det är uppbyggt och hur det fungerar. ESS kommer att bli runt 30 bättre än liknande anläggningar, och öppna nya möjligheter för forskare inom hälso-, miljö-, energi-, klimat-, transport- och ingenjörsvetenskap, läkemedel samt arkeologi.

ESS är ett europeiskt forskningsprojekt, som ska byggas i Lund. Minst 17 länder kommer att samarbeta för att konstruera, finansiera, bygga och driva ESS-anläggningen. Partnerländerna är idag: Sverige, Danmark, Spanien, Estland, Frankrike, Island, Italien, Lettland, Litauen, Nederländerna, Norge, Polen, Schweiz, Storbritannien, Tjeckien, Tyskland, Ungern.

European Spallation Source AB är ett statligt bolag, idag ägt av värdländerna Sverige och Danmark. ESS AB arbetar idag huvudsakligen med projektering och teknisk design i samarbete med runt 60 svenska och utländska partnerlaboratorier, forskningsinstitut och universitet. Den pågående projekteringen övergår under 2013 i konstruktion, och första spadtaget beräknas tas 2014. ESS beräknas kunna öppna 2019 och vara i full drift med 22 experimentstationer 2025. ESS kommer att besökas av 2-3000 forskare från hela världen per år.

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 13 member countries.