The Plus factory . Magnor

BIG . photos: © Einar Aslaksen

In just 18 months, Vestre has completed the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory, The Plus. The investment of almost NOK 300 million makes The Plus the single largest investment in the Norwegian furniture industry in decades. The 7000 m2 factory will be a global showcase for sustainable and highly efficient production and an experience destination for people around the world.

For The Plus, BIG developed its form as a natural transfer from logistics to architecture. The four production areas – the Color Factory, the Wood Factory, Assembly, and Warehouse – are placed in the four wings around the Courtyard. At the heart of The Plus lies the visitor center, which can cater to school groups, students, companies, organizations, and private individuals.

A new standard for industrial sustainability. Sustainability, environmental considerations, and transparency have been central to exactly all aspects of the factory, both in terms of the building itself and everything around it. From ensuring good working conditions to facilitating electrified heavy transport and managing the forest areas around The Plus.

The Plus is well placed to become the world’s first project of its type to achieve the very highest environmental BREEAM rating and fulfil the criteria for classification as Outstanding. An Outstanding building is defined as an international innovator. In theory, less than 1 per cent of all new non- domestic buildings will achieve this extremely high level, although in practice it is even more difficult. There are currently no industrial projects in the Nordic region that are close to qualifying as Outstanding. Through this project, Vestre aims to show that industrial projects can also be global innovators in the environmental field.

The building’s energy consumption is 60 percent lower than for similar conventional factories, while emitting 55 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than a comparable factory. On the green rooftop, there are about 900 solar panels that will generate approximately 250,000 kWh of renewable energy per year. Furthermore, the factory will reuse 90-95 percent of the water used in the production. The Plus will achieve the Paris Proof target for energy efficiency and on-site energy production.

The factory roof is covered with natural forest vegetation, which coexists with the solar panels that supply energy to the building. The roof will be open to everyone, all year round. Here, visitors can get close to the factory and follow the manufacturing processes, as well as experience the beautiful natural surroundings. Generous windows in all wings provide views of all parts of the factory at all times of the day. Visitors can walk up the outer ramps and get an overview of the building’s interior and the surrounding pine forest, where there is a large network of hiking trails.

Full transparency everywhere. Unlike most conventional industrial buildings, there are no fences, borders, or confidential premises on The Plus. Instead, the factory is a tribute to the Right to roam, in Norwegian ”Allemannsretten”. One of Vestre’s goals has been to also build the world’s most open and transparent factory, thereby creating greater interest in industry, technology, and sustainable production. Visitors can, among other things, have access to the Vestre Energy Center and Vestre Clean Water Center, where they can learn about energy production, energy recovery, water purification, and the life cycles of the materials used in the production. For Vestre, sharing and openness are fundamental to driving the world’s development forward.

Activity-filled grand opening. For the official factory opening, Vestre has invited over 800 special guests to a Forest Festival with a line-up including the Norwegian artist Dagny with 450 million streams, and The Mamas from Sweden, among others. The guests also get plenty of time to discover all the details that make up the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory. Bjarke Ingels, along with colleagues from BIG will present the factory, the design process, and the architectural vision.