The Plus
Einar Aslaksen

The Plus - world’s most sustainable furniture factory

BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group as Architects

Norwegian furniture manufacturer Vestre and BIG reveal THE PLUS – a new furniture factory, experience center, and 300-acre public park. The colorful manufacturing village is dedicated to the cleanest, carbon-neutral fabrication of urban furniture, leading the way for manufacturing facilities and high-efficiency production of the future.

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

Norway’s single largest investment in furniture industry in decades, the 7,000 m2 production facility doubles as a public park for hiking and camping and aligns with the region’s mission to establish a green manufacturing hub outside of Oslo. Constructed in just 18 months, the building is made of local mass timber, low-carbon concrete, and recycled steel, and is set to become the first industrial building to achieve the highest environmental BREEAM Outstanding rating.  

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

“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.”

- Stefan Tjust, CEO of Vestre

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

The Plus is conceived as a radial array of four main production halls – a warehouse, color factory, wood factory, and the assembly – that connect at the center and generate the ‘plus’ shape at its intersection. The layout enables an efficient, flexible, and transparent workflow between the manufacturing units and the intuitive visitor experience. Like a flowchart, the entire interior is organized with the color of each machine overflowing to the floors. Exploring The Plus feels like moving through an archipelago of colorful islands where the experience and overview of the factory’s activities are unified.  

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

“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.”

- Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner and Creative Director, BIG

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

The heart of The Plus draws visitors into the exhibition centers Vestre Energy and Clean Water Center where the public can learn about energy, water and circular design. A logistics office with direct connections to all four production halls allows Vestre’s team to process logistical traffic with maximum efficiency. The central hub wraps around a public, circular courtyard where the latest outdoor furniture collections are displayed and changed according to the changing seasons. The courtyard doubles as a panopticon for visitors and staff to fully experience the factory’s production processes. 

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

Inside the factories, each wing has one alternating ceiling corner lifted to create inclined roofs that allow views into the production halls as well as the forest outside. Along the color and wood factory, the sloping roofs are extended to form a pathway for visitors and staff to hike up and down the building while observing the production processes inside. All four production units are built with 21 meter free-spanning, cross-laminated timber, creating flexible column free-spaces.  

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

“Playfulness, democracy, and sustainability are at the heart of the Vestre brand and everything they do; our wooden, colorful factory in the middle of the Norwegian woods – surrounded by a 300,000m2 public forest park where the local community can come to experience the gigantic Vestre furniture pieces sprinkled throughout – lives and breathes this philosophy. Working with the ambitious and dedicated Vestre team has been the pleasure of a lifetime.”

- David Zahle, Partner, BIG

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

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.  

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

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 ca 90% lower energy demand than that of a conventional factory.  

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

Proving that production can be sustainable and profitable even in a high-cost country like Norway, The Plus – a hybrid of a transparent and open production facility, a public park, and a literal green landmark for the manufacturing industry – exemplifies how advancements in fabrication and manufacturing can help shape both the factories of the future, and the way we experience them. 

photo_credit Einar Aslaksen
Einar Aslaksen

The Plus Facts:  

The Plus will generate 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional factory. The factory has an efficiency rating of A+ and the building will generate around 250,000 kWh of renewable energy per year. Vestre will use 100% electric vehicles for transportation.
The Plus is set to become the first project of its kind in the world to achieve the very highest environmental BREEAM rating – the ‘Outstanding’ classification. 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. There are currently no industrial projects in the Nordic region that are close to qualifying as Outstanding. Through this project, Vestre aims to prove that industrial projects can also be global innovators in the environmental field.
All materials are carefully chosen by their environmental impact, with the facade constructed from local timber, low-carbon concrete and recycled reinforcement steel.
Every aspect of the design is based on principles of renewable and clean energy to match Vestre AS eco-friendly production, such as ensuring a minimum of 50% lower greenhouse gas emissions than comparable factories.

 

Vestre is building the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory in Norway

Vestre as Client

The Plus has been designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Together, Vestre and BIG have created an entirely new typology, where people, production, technology, architecture, and nature are completely integrated with each other.

 

 

The Plus is conceived as the direct translation of logistics into architecture. The four production areas – the colour factory, the wood factory, the assembly department, and the warehouse – are arrayed around a central courtyard that forms the very heart of the building. The geometry provides an open and efficient workflow, while allowing all four wings of the factory to be in direct contact with the forest. At the centre of the building lies the experience centre, which provides 360-degree views of the whole production process.

 

 

Because the junction between the factory’s four wings needs to accommodate all production-related traffic smoothly and efficiently, it has been designed in the shape of an indoor roundabout. This leaves space for an open-air central courtyard where Vestre can showcase our latest furniture collections through every season of the year. A staircase, resplendent in all Vestre’s 200 standard colours, leads visitors and employees up to the experience centre and office. By cleverly raising one corner of each wing of the factory, the architects have created a view from the roof that alternates between the forest canopy and the production halls.

 

 

Through its furniture, Vestre creates meeting places where people can come together, and what we are actually doing with The Plus at Magnor is creating a vast new meeting place. The factory roof will be open to the public all year round – easily accessible via ramps and stairs. The sloping roof will enable visitors to walk up the length of the building-while watching the production processes taking place inside. This allows for maximum transparency. Those who are even more curious can visit the experience centre at The Plus and take a closer look at the factory from the inside. The footpaths continue down to the ground on the other side of the building, where they transform into forest trails that meander through the wood, and form a colourful route through the park and on to Magnor town centre.

 

 

The view from the roof shows how the factory's propeller-like wings form a reciprocal system that creates not only a logistical hub, but a structural nexus. The four wings will have a 21-metre, free-spanning gluelam frame construction. A 3-metre-wide braced service corridor will house the technical infrastructure and provide structural stability for each wing. Ducts in the factory floor will allow power, compressed air, and ventilation to be routed to the relevant machinery, ensuring that as much of thise infrastructure as possible is hidden away.

To add a sense of playfulness to the factory, each machine is coated in one of Vestre's RAL colours, which spill out over the floor to create an archipelago of colours that links back to the central roundabout. Since each factory wing has its own colour code, this mapping of the machinery provides an orientation system in an otherwise completely symmetrical space. With this visual reference, it is easy to identify, trace and explain the workflow. Vestre wants to create a new perception of what manufacturing looks like and, as part of that, the colours are intended to be particularly appealing to children.

The Plus is truly a factory in the forest. Great efforts will be made to keep the trees as close to the building as possible. The building will be clad in charred timber, cut from the same trees that were felled to make way for the factory. This is also a subtle reference to local history. The first immigrants who came to Magnor from Finland in the 17th century were known for their productive slash-and-burn agriculture. Portions of the forest were burned down, and grain sown in the ashes.

The area surrounding the factory will be kept completely open to the general public. There will be no fences or closed-off areas. We hope that hikers will make active use of the park and even pitch their tents close to the factory. In this way, The Plus represents a tribute to Norway's traditional ‘right to roam’.

The park surrounding the factory will offer exciting activities for the whole family. Giant-sized Vestre furniture will form children’s playgrounds, and the park will feature woodland auditoriums, swings, a viewing tower, and picnic areas. In addition, we will build a bridge over the Vrangselv river linking the Vestre Forest Camp with Magnor town centre. Each object in the park will carry a poem by Hans Bjørli, one of Norway's best-loved poets, who spent his whole life living in this municipality.

Floor space: 7,000 m2
Workforce: 30-70 full-time equivalents
Budget: NOK 300 million
Scheduled completion: 2021/2022
Construction owner: The Plus AS (Vestre)
Architect / landscape architect / structural engineer: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
Project manager: Fokus Rådgivning AS
Cost analysis Bygganalyse AS
Main contractor: Ø.M. Fjeld AS
CLT and glulam: Woodcon AS
BREEAM-AP: Nordic Office of Architecture AS
Ecology: Asplan Viak AS
RIV: Erichsen & Horgen AS
RIE: Foyn Consult AS
Building physics: Norconsult AS
Geotechnics: Multiconsult AS
Supported by: Innovation Norway, Enova, Eidskog Municipal Council, Klosser Innovasjon and Siva
Financing partner: Danske Bank, GIEK

Featured Projects
Latest Products
News
Poppodium Nieuwe Nor offers a new landmark and hub for new music in the Netherlands
29 Jun 2022 News
Poppodium Nieuwe Nor offers a new landmark and hub for new music in the Netherlands

  In the city center Of Heerlen, Poppodium Nieuwe Nor by diederendirrix is a unique new landma... More

Izar Houses in Mexico celebrate the natural landscape, light, and rainfall
29 Jun 2022 News
Izar Houses in Mexico celebrate the natural landscape, light, and rainfall

On a steep site in Mexico, Izar Houses by Taller ADG Alonso de Garay pay exceptional attention to en... More

25 best architecture firms in Madrid
27 Jun 2022 News
25 best architecture firms in Madrid

Madrid is a center of gravity for European architecture. Spain’s capital city is host to an am... More

Lviv’s Radio Garage offers an experimental space for temporary exhibitions with a focus on radio, sound art, VR-art, and interactive media
25 Jun 2022 News
Lviv’s Radio Garage offers an experimental space for temporary exhibitions with a focus on radio, sound art, VR-art, and interactive media

In Lviv, Radio Garage is a media art centre and an experimental gallery for temporary exhibitions wi... More

Urban infill project Manifesto Market Andel activates an underutilized gap in Prague’s urban fabric
25 Jun 2022 News
Urban infill project Manifesto Market Andel activates an underutilized gap in Prague’s urban fabric

Located in Prague’s Andel District, Manifesto Market Andel is an urban infill project activati... More

Amsterdam’s iconic Droogbak building transformed into a 21st-century office space for a prestigious law firm
24 Jun 2022 News
Amsterdam’s iconic Droogbak building transformed into a 21st-century office space for a prestigious law firm

An iconic 19th-century building next to Amsterdam Central Station, Droogbak has been transformed int... More

Renovated hacienda-style villa in Belgium respects its history while exploring form and materials
24 Jun 2022 News
Renovated hacienda-style villa in Belgium respects its history while exploring form and materials

House VD-B by Graux & Baeyens architecten is a renovated hacienda-style villa in Evergem, Belgiu... More

Landmark urban renewal project comes to the heart of Bruges with the completion of The Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre (BMCC)
22 Jun 2022 News
Landmark urban renewal project comes to the heart of Bruges with the completion of The Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre (BMCC)

In the heart of the historic city of Bruges, The Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre (BMCC) is a... More