Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG’s) latest venture into green, sustainable buildings of the future brings us The Plus: an expansive and impressive furniture factory that’s touted to be the most eco-friendly ever. Built within a forest in the east of Norway, it also comes with a visitor centre and a massive 300-acre park.
More than just, well, a factory tucked away from prying eyes, The Plus’ 6500 sqm open production facility is envisioned to serve as a communal centre for all committed to clean, carbon-neutral fabrication of furniture. The 300-acre park, of course, is just icing on the cake for some classic Norwegian hiking and camping.
As the first industrial building in the Nordic region to achieve a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) Outstanding, the highest accolade in one of the world’s leading sustainability assessment methodologies, BIG had ensure that everything, and we mean everything, in the building has been examined and selected to minimise The Plus’ environmental impact.
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Think facades fashioned from local timber, low-carbon concrete and recycled reinforcement steel that’s designed to be, as the press release says, ‘Paris Agreement-proof’. On the roof, an array of 1,200 photovoltaic panels capture energy for the factory, while any excess heat is channelled to an ice-water system for cooling, which results in about 90 per cent lower energy demand than a similarly-sized conventional factory.
The Plus’ shape isn’t just about creating a striking design. The four main sections of the factory, namely the warehouse, colour factory, wood factory and assembly area, connect at the centre of the building, providing a simple and efficient system for production.
The midpoint of the building houses an exhibition centre and logistics office, as well as an outdoor plaza that acts as a panopticon for visitors and staff members to view the factory’s processes in all its glory.
BIG and Vestre’s urban furniture factory is a far cry from the dull, dystopian grindhouses that seem to occupy the public headspace where it comes to ‘factories of the future’. Instead, what we’ve gotten is a slick looker of a factory – though it has to be granted, this factory still comes with an army of smart robots and self-driving automatons that do all the heavy lifting.