Biomedicum is a new, state-of-the-art laboratory building that will be a collective powerhouse for research at one of the world's leading medical universities, Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Stockholm.

Biomedicum offers the Karolinska Institutet a concentrated environment for future research, thanks to flexibly designed laboratory and office facilities that act as a catalyst for unlimited collaboration between the various research and study environments. The laboratory will be one of the most modern in Europe and will attract employees from all over the world.

Biomedicum consists of four buildings, with laboratories built around an eight-storey high atrium wrapped in a transparent double-shell façade. Through the glass-covered atrium, the campus’ outdoor space continues through the building, reinforcing its green and social qualities – which ultimately benefits the sharing of knowledge and cross-disciplinary work.

The building is 11 storeys high; it covers 65,000 square meters and accommodates 1,600 researchers and staff. Biomedicum will be one of the first laboratories in Sweden to be certified according to the Environmental Building Silver standard. Continuous facade and lantern fittings have been included to optimise daylight and the thermal climate in the atrium. Sections of the fan spaces are covered with solar cells and large parts of the roof surface are covered with sedum.

Architecture that invites collaboration

The building’s transparent design, with many common spaces, creates the conditions for spontaneous meetings in everyday life, collaboration across scientific boundaries and an exchange of experiences.

The building is equipped with common infrastructure and advanced technological platforms, as well as equipment that can be utilised by multiple researchers. The laboratory also has a direct connection to BioClinicum, the clinical research environment at Karolinska University Hospital, through a physical, glazed connection pathway across Solnavägen.

Biomedicum has an inviting public entrance floor with access to the atrium, café, auditorium, conference rooms and public exhibition rooms. This also creates new contact with the park and therefore opens the Karolinska Institutet up towards both the city and the new university hospital, Nya Karolinska Solna (NKS), which is located next door.

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Biomedicum thus becomes a new hub in the area – a distinct icon for the world-class research that Karolinska Institutet stands for.

Biomedicum’s green interior space

The interior atrium extends over eight floors and ends with a glass roof with lanterns that let in daylight. The plant walls in the slits extend from the entrance floor all the way up to the top floor of the building. Here the verticality is enhanced and the greenery peeks out and becomes visible from the exterior.

Artistic stairwell

As a guide, the four stairwells, one for each block, are distinct in the corners facing the atrium. An illuminated wall covered with mouth-blown glass extends up the entire staircase and creates beautiful lighting in the stairwells, inviting use and movement. The glass comes from Lamberts Glashütte in Germany. Both installation and lighting were completed by Derix, steered by C.F Møller Architects.

Bright roof

The atrium’s roof is a suspended ceiling with large dome-shaped lanterns that let in daylight, which also function as lamps in winter. Above is a fully glazed roof, which is easy to maintain as it can be reached from the suspended ceiling. The lanterns give the atrium a strong identity and have remained a fundamental idea since the competition stage.

Characteristic façade

Biomedicum’s green double-shell facade creates transition between the neighbouring Aula Medica and Widerströmska buildings, and at the same time, it has its own distinct identity and design language.

Each glass section in the double shell is angled to create life in the facade. This means that the facade can be perceived differently from different angles. From the front it is almost completely transparent; from one side green and closed; and from the other side almost completely glazed and mirrored.

Between the buildings, the slits’ intersections come forward with a more transparent single-shell facade.

Positive process

In order to keep to the timetable but still give KI the opportunity to wait as long as possible with definitive placement, a division of the building was made in Bashus och Hyresgästanpassning (Basic building design and Tenant customisation), where the tenant customisation was system walls, laboratory fittings and other things within the laboratory quarter. The rest of the project was designed and built while the tenant customisation was being carried out.

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As the form of contract, Akademiska Hus chose collaboration with a general contractor. When the systemic actions began, Skanska and an expanded construction management team joined the design process. This meant that many questions were well analysed before production began.

In the early stages, a test building with model rooms was also built. This was very helpful in all stages of the project. Solutions and detail design could be tested which then made joint decisions easier. This was an important process, in order to establish assembly arrangements for critical rooms and paths. The test building was also an important asset to visualise the future workplace for tenants.

Flexible building

The flexibility of the modern laboratory lies in establishing a reasonable level of flexibility, generality, define the possibilities of the building and its limitations. A structure that enables an open lab as well as closed and more fixed units. This creates a sustainable building that allows for changes without disrupting ongoing research.

The requirement for a sufficient amount of daylight is a challenge in large buildings such as Biomedicum. Increased hygiene requirements and noisy equipment place high demands on creating a good working environment where the research and staff should have top priority.

Modern and efficient labs

The new building is for experimental research across disciplinary boundaries and for cooperation with clinical research. Everything aims at facilitating the transition from basic research to clinical studies.

The laboratories are designed to be adaptable to change as new scientific opportunities emerge in the future.

Biomedicum is equipped with shared infrastructure, which means that advanced technology platforms and expensive equipment can be utilised by more people, and that research groups can collaborate to achieve results. The laboratory will be one of the most modern in Europe, and is intended to attract researchers from all over the world.

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By bringing the scientific activities into separate disciplines together under one roof, the research lab provides new opportunities for crossover research. There are also a number of meeting nodes and a core of common facilities that make it possible to utilize more expensive equipment more efficiently. The design has enabled flexible, accessible and functional working environments in a natural meeting place in the form of a large central atrium.

Biomedicum includes a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory is platform to develop research work within the HIV field. It has been built for work with microorganisms classified BSL-3, with potential possibility of conversion to a BSL-4 unit.

The Biomedicum flow cytometry core facility (BFC) is a shared resource laboratory that will provide researchers with the capability of performing a wide range of flow cytometry experiments.

The departments in Biomedicum are:

– The Department of Cell and Molecular Biology

– The Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

– The Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology

– The Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics

– The Department of Neuroscience

[infi]Biomedicum, Karolinska Institute
Architect: C.F. Møller Architects
Address: Stockholm, Sweden
Client: Akademiska Hus (client),  Karolinska Institutet (tenant)
Size: 65,000 m²
Year: 2010-2018
Landscape: Landskapslaget AB
Interior Architect: Nyréns Arkitektkontor
Collaborators: Skanska, Beräkningskonsulterna AB, Svensk Låsprojektering AB
Cost: 184 m GBP
Prizes: CODAawards, Healthcare Winner, 2019; Architecture MasterPrize – Healthcare Architecture, 2019; Årets Bygge (Building of the Year) – Sweden, 2019; Honorable Mention, Glaspriset (The Swedish Federation of Glazing Contractors), 2018; 1st. Prize in invited competition, 2010
Photos: by Mark Hadden[/info]

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