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Diamond Synchrotron

A state-of-the-art electron accelerator producing synchrotron light

Diamond Synchrotron

Jacobs won a completion design and led the multi-disciplinary design from concept design to completion on site for the facility, which gives the client the most powerful and most focused light source currently available in Europe.

The facility is a state-of-the-art electron accelerator to produce synchrotron light – working like a giant microscope to harness the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.

The main building is a 235-meter-in-diameter toroid with the primary experimental hall supported by laboratories and offices arranged around the perimeter. The central synchrotron area is extremely stable both structurally and environmentally to sustain precise machine function.


meter main building


story atrium at the center of the building utilizes the stack effect created to help return the air to the roof top plant room


billion times brighter than the sun (approximate)


times more powerful than a traditional microscope

Inside the Diamond Synchrotron

Inside the Diamond Synchrotron
 Diamond Synchrotron
Inside the Diamond Synchrotron

Our masterplan and design philosophy for the project adopted the following principles of sustainability to lead the detailed design:

The design minimises the buildings impact on the visual environment by careful integration of the building mass into the undulating landscape scheme.

To avoid impact on surrounding neighbours the major plant is located at the central courtyard of the ‘annular’ shaped building. This allows the main building to screen the neighbours from the noise created by the plant. Acoustic prediction, assessment and surveys have been carried out to support this approach.

Cycle routes, cycle parking and showers are provided to encourage staff to travel by environmentally friendly transport.

The buildings themselves utilise many passive energy controlling measures to assist in the reduction of wastage and operational costs.

In developing the design of the foundation system it was necessary to avoid disturbing the natural flow of groundwater. The depth of the piles was also assessed to ensure a rock bearing structure while avoiding any pollution of the aquifer beneath the site.

The large expanses of hard surfaces and roof mean that the rate of flow from surface water will increase in flash flood conditions. To avoid overloading the existing drainage systems a series of long swales around the synchrotron and balancing / soakage ponds have been designed to slow down the rate of water flow and through soakage, reduce the amount of water before the minimal excess is discharged at an acceptable rate. This Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) approach replicates as close as possible the natural flow of water back down through the earth.

The selection of materials has been carried out with consideration to the effect on the environment during pollution, use and disposal. Issues were considered such as toxic pollutants, emissions, resources, waste generation and recycling.

The site had been left in a derelict state since the 1950s and the reuse of it now uncovered a number of issues. The site had been overgrown and now supports some special plants including rare grasses and a rare orchid. Care has been exercised in protecting the areas where the orchid has established itself and the seeds and soils around the rare grasses have been harvested and will be replanted as part of the mounded landscape design. Leaving the majority of the site landscape in a similar form to the existing grassland has preserved the wild life on the site.

The nature of the facility necessitates the provision of laboratories with fume cupboards and their requirement for exhausts. To accommodate these provisions multi-flue enclosures are located at specific core zones to enable effective dispersal of the contaminants.

The fabric of the building has been designed to meet the insulation and air permeability requirements of the new Part L of the Building Regulations. The areas of glazing in the building fabric have been maintained at below the cut-off for a carbon emissions calculation to be required. High performance glass has been specified to help the U-value and to reduce the solar gain.

All support office and laboratories that do not require the close control required for the central function of the synchrotron itself are naturally ventilated and protected from the effects of the external environment by solar control louvres outside the building.

To provide internal environmental control within the deep atrium footprint, an innovative plenum floor supply and plenum ceiling extract high volume air ventilation system delivers the equivalent of natural ventilation to the unusual building configuration. The 3-story atrium at the centre of the building utilises the stack effect created to help return the air to the roof top plant room. The result is a low energy solution to a building configuration that would normally require air-conditioning.