The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is often at its most interesting when mixing contrasting ideas and functions into its projects – such as its power plant/ski slope for example. In a similar vein comes The Plus, which consists of a cross-shaped furniture factory that boasts impressive sustainable design features and also hosts hiking and camping facilities – even welcoming visitors onto its green roof.
The Pluswhich has just been completed but is shown here photographed late in the build process, was created for Vestre, a Norwegian manufacturer of furniture for parks and other outdoor spaces. The building is located in a forested area in Magnor, in Norway, and is part of a huge 300-hectare (741-acre) experience park with long winding pathways, playgrounds, and a visitor center. The idea is for it to become a popular destination with hikers.
Its unusual form was chosen to ensure easy access throughout and its design is very open and welcoming. As well as inviting visitors onto its roof, much of the manufacturing process can be viewed through the glazing.
“As the name The Plus suggests, the building has been constructed with four propeller-like wings in a geometric shape like a plus sign,” explained Vestre. “The factory lies in an area of woodland outside Magnor, near the border with Sweden. Its geometry provides an open and efficient workflow, while allowing all four wings of the factory to be in direct contact with the forest. In the middle of the building is an experience center which gives 360 degree insight into the four production areas – the color factory, the wood factory, the assembly department and the warehouse.”
The Plus is described by the team as the “world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory” and while that’s a difficult claim to verify definitively, we’re inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt. It’s slated for the BREEAM Outstanding green building rating and is built to the stringent Passive House standard too. It has superb insulation and a high level of air-tightness, which helps it maintain a relatively steady temperature inside. Some power comes from a roof-based solar panel array, and its energy efficient heating and cooling system consists of heat exchangers and geothermal wells.
In a nice touch, during the construction process, trees that had to be cleared to make space for the factory were then reused as a building material. Transportation of materials will be carried out using the electric Tesla Semiwhile over 90 per cent of the water used in the production of furniture will be reused. Its overall manufacturing processes have also been improved for maximum efficiency.
“Over time The Plus will make use of several Industry 4.0 solutions,” added Vestre. “Examples include self-learning industrial robots, which can give the products their final color coating with the help of object recognition and artificial intelligence. Color changes that used to take 15 minutes are now completed in 30 seconds. Then there are the intelligent scanners which optimize the wood processing function and reduce waste to an absolute minimum.”
This year is shaping up to be a notable one for BIG and we’ve already seen the completion of major projects like the Google Campusthe opening of a greenery filled skyscraper in Singaporeand the unveiling of proposals such as a novel birdhouse-covered hotel retreat.