The magnificent Plus amongst many wild trees, with a 7000 SQM footprint in Magnor, Norway opened to the Public on the 3rd of June this year.
THE PLUS is a new furniture factory for the manufacturer ‘Vestre’ designed by BIG Architects. Construction of the building started in the year 2020 and it was Norway’s single largest investment in the furniture industry in a prolonged time. The production facility also houses an experience centre and a 300-acre public park. The village of Gaustadvegen is now home to the cleanest, carbon-neutral fabrication of urban furniture for the near future.
“The Plus will be the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory. Building The Plus is an important step in reaching this goal. By using cutting-edge technology and Scandinavian collaboration, we can produce faster and greener than ever. In that way we will ensure global competitiveness through our leadership in environmentally-conscious production.” commented Stefan Tjust, CEO of Vestre.
Within a period of 18 months, the entire facility was constructed using local mass timber, low-carbon concrete and recycled steel, which also paved the way to achieve the ‘Outstanding’ classification as per the BREEAM rating. The highest environmental rating comes from the fact that the building is defined as an international innovator and it is only less than 1% of all new non-domestic buildings that will attain this specific rating. Further, the Plus will generate 50% less greenhouse gas emissions, hold an efficiency rating of A+ and also approximately generate 250,000 kWh of renewable energy per year.
“Together with Vestre, we have imagined a factory that puts the entire process of furniture-making on open display – at center stage. Rather than fearing industrial espionage, the factory wants to show and share their knowledge to help accelerate the global transition towards sustainable manufacturing. Constructed from locally-sourced timber and running on local hydropower, the beauty of The Plus is in the clarity of its organization. Conceived as the intersection of a road and a production line, it forms a big plus shape that connects all aspects of manufacturing. The radical transparency invites visitors and hikers to enjoy the whole process of creation while providing Vestre’s team with the thrill of working in the middle of the forest. To us, The Plus is a crystal-clear example of Hedonistic Sustainability – showing us how our sustainable future will not only be better for the environment, but also more beautiful to work in and more fun to visit.” says Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner and Creative Director, BIG.
To encourage the public to learn about energy, water and circular design the core of THE PLUS comprise multiple exhibition centres which are effectively linked by a logistics office, that grants direct access to all four production halls. The central hub wraps around a public, circular courtyard where the latest outdoor collections are displayed and changed according to the shifting seasons.
To allow views into the production halls and forests outside, each wing in the interiors of the factory contain an alternating ceiling corner lifted to create inclined roofs. And they are further extended to form a pathway for visitors and staff to hike up and down the building while observing the production processes inside. Each of these units are built using a 21-meter free spanning, cross-laminated timber creating flexible coloumn free spaces.
From all four sides of the buildings, visitors and staff will be invited to hike around the facility and end their walk on the green roof terrace. An ADA-accessible ramp will allow wheelchairs and strollers to enjoy the serpentine path and the experience of being surrounded by pine trees on all sides.
On the rooftop, 900 photovoltaic panels are placed and angled according to optimal solar efficiency while effective construction and materials methods, rainwater collection systems, heat and cooling systems, green roofs, electric vehicles and much else contribute to a 90% lower energy demand than that of a conventional factory.
Therefore, the Plus stresses on how technological advancements can shape the manufacturing processes in a factory while also creating and exhibiting the experiences around such facilities. It is a hybrid model of a transparent and open production facility, a public park, and a literal green landmark for the manufacturing industry of the future.
- PROJECT: The Plus
- ARCHITECTS: BIG
- Building Size: 7000 SQM
- Project Year: August 2020 – June 2022
Text: Nikitha Sunil Vallikad | Contributor, A+D