The most sustainable furniture factory in the world doesn’t just produce gorgeous modern eco-friendly couches, tables and chairs – it’s a stunning work of architecture in its own right. Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), “The Plus” is tucked into a lush Norwegian forest in the village of Magnor. In addition to its 6,500-square-meter open production facility for furniture company Vestre, the complex will function as a public 300-acre park for hiking and camping, and become a landmark for Norway’s climate goals.
What makes the factory itself so sustainable? It’s made of recycled steel, low-carbon concrete and locally sourced timber, and it’s powered by more than 1,200 solar panels and geothermal wells. Excess heat created during the manufacturing process will also help heat the complex. It’ll also employ futuristic technology like smart robots, self-driving trucks and a tablet that manages the entire factory. Overall, The Plus will use 90% less energy than a similarly sized conventional factory, and produce 50% lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The Plus is designed so that visitors can watch and understand the manufacturing process, getting a peek at how Vestre’s sustainable furniture is made. The building is designed to look like a giant “plus” symbol, with the four main production halls occupying each “arm.” Those include the warehouse, color factory, wood factory and assembly, all connecting at the center. Each wing of the factory features an alternating ceiling corner lifted to create inclined roofs that provide peeks into the production halls and outside to the forests. A central hub wraps around a public circular courtyard where the latest furniture collections can be exhibited, and an outdoor plaza acts as a panopticon that allows visitors and staff to view manufacturing as it happens.
“From all four sides of the buildings, visitors and staff are invited to hike around the facility and conclude on the green roof terrace, transforming the furniture factory museum into a campus in the woods,” says BIG. “An ADA-accessible ramp allows wheelchairs and strollers to meander the serpentine path and enjoy the immersive experience of being among the pine trees. The Plus reinforces Vestre’s vision of combining social and democratic spaces with a future enriched by technology yet grounded in history and nature.”