Project Brief

Design the after-life of the Large Hadron Collider as a site of pilgrimmage, tourism and education

Instructor

David Ruy

Collaborator

Dylan Perkinson

Year

2015
SCI-Arc

 

the Large Hadron Collider SPANNING TWO COUNTRIES

CONTEXT:
The Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider is the largest instrument ever built. It was created to observe the smallest particles ever seen. Housed in a tunnel 17 miles in circumference, it is buried 300 feet beneath Switzerland and France.

The general public is not aware of the size and ambition of this project. The largest and most expensive scientific instrument ever built is buried, out of sight. Designed to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang, the LHC allows us glimpses of the other side of time and space.

Combining education, spectacle and thrills, this masterplan helps CERN move forward after the retirement of the LHC, solidifying its legacy as a site of historical significance.
tunnel housing the lhc

tunnel housing the lhc

 

The LHC will be retired in 2018, after its 20 year run. As architects-in-residence at CERN, this is a masterplan proposal for how the LHC sites can be redeveloped for public viewing.

atlas particle detector


will the lhc accelerate the end of the universe?

 

is the sculpture of lord shiva a key to secret locations along the lhc?

STRATEGY:
Fevered Imagination

Conspiracy theories - tenuous as they may be - constitute a form of narrative imagination that selectively feeds
on fact.

As it is, the incredible nature of the particle collider and its experimental findings lends itself strongly to conspiracy theories about multiple dimensions, aliens, wormholes and time travel.

These complement existing bizarre features onsite at CERN, such as a sculpture of Shiva the Destroyer on the Geneva ATLAS campus.

Could this approach perhaps serve to keep the legacy of the LHC alive far longer in popular imagination?


SPACE: Revealing the Serpent

The journey through the site begins with the visitor center. Redeveloped from the nondescript concrete buildings on-site, the visitor center features iconic Swiss facades familiar to tourists to the region. A double-decked cable car ride carries visitors into a deep excavated pit that exposes a length of the Large Hadron Collider tunnel. The ride is carefully choreographed to showcase the sublimity that mega-infrastructure can command through sheer scale and extent of human engineering.

 

section through the ground

Exposing the buried object, carefully documenting its recovery and enabling a conversation of its place in history are archaeological problems that must be engaged - and in public view.  The alternative to this is to leave the Large Hadron Collider forever buried to join other discarded scientific instruments in oblivion.


SURFACE: 
the Semantics of Ornamentation

The fussy ornamented Swiss facades front the visitor center are mausoleum-like, but do not conceal their true nature as surface with nothing behind. They appear to suggest some kind of duality against the bare concrete of the pit. They also encourage the manifestation of a creeping paranoia about the "hidden" true nature of the Large Hadron Collider.

Architectural language does not explicitly propagate conspiracy theories, but actively embodies them through thoroughly unnecessary ornamentation.