CERN Science Gateway, Geneva, Switzerland

CERN Science Gateway

Commissioned by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Science Gateway is a facility aiming to educate and engage the public in science and CERN activities and inspire new generation in the beauty of science.
The building offers a variety of spaces and activities from exhibitions to conferences housed in 6 buildings: 4 “Pavilions” and 2 “Tubes” inspired from the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), world’s largest particle accelerator. Each building is linked to its building neighbor by a glazed bridge.
Transsolar developed the environmental concept for comfort, energy, and carbon through passive and active solutions. All spaces except the Auditorium are conditioned by radiant surfaces and are mechanically ventilated by displacement ventilation ensuring highest indoor air quality and thermal comfort with minimum energy demand.
All facades are highly insulated using performant thermal insulation and triple glazing equipped with external operable solar protection, at the exception of the bridges. The facades of this strong architectural elements are double glazed and are protected from the sun by large as overhangs.
The Auditorium is designed to ensure the highest flexibility of use. This room can welcome 900 persons at maximum capacity and can be split in three distinct smaller auditoriums to house at the same time, conferences or ceremonies and is equipped with a telescopic tribune to be fully invisible in the back wall when retracted. A such need of flexibility requires a clever climate concept that remains invisible while maintain optimal comfort conditions. This concept relies on a full air system which means that fresh air supply, heating and cooling are supported by mechanical ventilation and responds to a displacement ventilation concept. Fresh air is supplied in a ducted plenum below the floor and then exfiltrates in the Auditorium through micro perforations in the floor. Each micro perforations is 4 mm diameter and the distance between is 16 mm. Air extraction happens below the ceiling at 3 distinct positions. This concept was validated by two computational fluid dynamic simulations. The first one to ensure air velocity escaping from the micro perforations of the floor does not jeopardize aeraulic comfort as an air draft at one’s ankles is never nice. The second one to evaluate the thermal comfort in the Auditorium through air stratification considering the ventilation concept and the thermal loads (lighting, scenography lighting, audience).
In addition, each room of the Science Gateway were simulated by dynamic thermal simulations to ensure thermal comfort meet indoor climate requirements while evaluating the energy demand at building scale. This led to design an energy supply concept mainly based on renewable energies: vertical geothermal probes to provide heating and cooling and photovoltaic panels to supply electricity. However, boring geothermal probes had to be stopped during construction phase for geotechnical reasons and the system to be replaced by high-efficiency air-water heat pump.
Above each Pavilion hoovers a photovoltaic canopy made of 620 modules each. In total, it represents a photovoltaic area of 3,720 m² / 40,042 ft² that produces 493 MWh of electricity – 100 MWh more than the project consumption - making the Science Gateway operational carbon neutral and compliant with the level “THPE 2000 W” of the very drastic energy regulation of Geneva.