BIG Brings Sustainability to the Furniture Factory

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled its design for a factory for furniture manufacturer Vestre, and it’s quite unlike the factories of old. We look at how it is designed to set a new sustainability bar

Located in east Norway, BIG’s factory design for Vestre is set to be the “world’s most eco-friendly furniture factory” when it is built, targeting the BREEAM environmental rating of ‘outstanding’.

Dubbed The Plus due to its cross-shaped central structure, the factory complex is set in a 300-acre park, and will feature a visitor centre alongside full manufacturing facilities.

The central factory will cover 6,501 square metres set across four wings, each serving a different function, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing views of the surrounding forest and enable visitors to view the production from outside.

The wings will house the warehouse, colour factory, wood factory and assembly area, all constructed from local timber, recycled steel and low-carbon concrete. 

At the core is a central atrium surrounding a courtyard containing a single tree, which provides natural light to the central offices and visitor spaces.

Above, the building is topped with 1,200 solar panels and green roofs, as well as a space for visitors and events. The structure will also be powered by geothermal wells, with heating provided by surplus heat from the production process.

Outside, the building will feature landscaping for visitors, where they can see into the various parts of the factory and access the roof space above.

The project also includes careful landscaping of the park beyond to enable visitors and Vesre employees to fully access and enjoy the forest.

“With Vestre we have imagined a factory that is simultaneously front of house and back of house,” said Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG.

“The radical transparency invites visitors and hikers to enjoy the whole process of manufacturing while providing the workers the thrill of working in the middle of the forest.”

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Images courtesy of Lucian R / BIG