BIG Completes Cross-Shaped Furniture Factory For Vestre In The Heart Of The Norwegian Forest

Bjarke Ingels Group has completed a new furniture factory for Norwegian furniture manufacturer Vestre in the heart of a Norwegian forest. 

Named The Plus, the 7,000-square-metre factory is made of a plus shape that creates four wings for the company's main production halls and logistic lines. 

The four main halls incorporate a warehouse, color factory, wood factory, and the assembly, while featuring a large central courtyard with spiral staircase that climbs to the roof of the building. 

Video by Vestre, Jo Bergersen-Fjuz.

The Plus was designed as a new furniture factory, experience center, and 300-acre public park located in the village of Magnor, in the geographical midpoint between Vestre’s headquarter in Oslo and the company’s existing steel factory in Torsby, Sweden. 

BIG created a colorful manufacturing village which is dedicated to the cleanest, carbon-neutral fabrication of urban furniture, allowing fresh and modern spaces for different manufacturing facilities and high-efficiency production of the future. 

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

Constructed in only 18 months, the building is made of local mass timber, low-carbon concrete, and recycled steel. The project is set to become the first industrial building to achieve the highest environmental BREEAM Outstanding rating.  

According to BIG, the factory will generate 50 per cent 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," said BIG. Moreover, Vestre will use 100 per cent electric vehicles for transportation.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

"It will be the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory"

"The Plus will be the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory. Building The Plus is an important step in reaching this goal," said Stefan Tjust, CEO of Vestre.

"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," Tjust added.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

A radial array of four main production halls consists of a warehouse, color factory, wood factory, and the assembly – that connect at the center and generate the ‘plus’ shape at its intersection. 

BIG designed an efficient and flexible layout that allows transparent workflow between the manufacturing units and the intuitive visitor experience. 

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

Envisioned like a flowchart, the interior spaces are 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," BIG added.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

The Plus was constructed from locally-sourced timber

"Together with Vestre, we have imagined a factory that puts the entire process of furniture-making on open display - at center stage," said Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner and Creative Director, BIG.

"Rather than fearing industrial espionage, the factory wants to show and share their knowledge to help accelerate the global transition towards sustainable manufacturing."

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

"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," Ingels added.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

At the heart of the building, the studio designed two exhibition centers, Vestre Energy and Clean Water Center where the public can learn about energy, water and circular design. 

While a logistics office offers direct connections to all four production halls, it allows Vestre’s team to process logistical traffic with maximum efficiency. 

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

At the heart of the building, there is a central hub wrapping around a public. This circular courtyard is dedicated to the latest outdoor furniture collections of Vestre and the space can be changed according to the changing seasons. 

The courtyard doubles as a panopticon for visitors and staff to fully experience the factory’s production processes.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

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 were built with 21 meter free-spanning with Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) to create flexible column free-spaces.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

"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," said David Zahle, Partner, BIG.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

From all four sides of the buildings, visitors and staff are invited to hike around the facility and end their walk on the green roof terrace. 

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

On the rooftop, the firm places 900 photovoltaic panels and they are angled according to optimal solar efficiency while effective construction and materials methods are implemented, including rainwater collection systems, heat and cooling systems, green roofs, electric vehicles and much else contribute to ca 90 per cent lower energy demand than that of a conventional factory. 

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.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

Visitors and kids are able to use the roof freely with yellow-colored railing and experience the surrounding with mesmerizing views. 

"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," added BIG.

BIG explained that "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." 

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

"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," the firm added. 

"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," the firm added.

BIG selected all materials carefully to have a minimum environmental impact, while the facade was constructed from local timber, low-carbon concrete and recycled reinforcement steel.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

According to the firm, every aspect of the design is derived from principles of renewable and clean energy to meet Vestre's eco-friendly production, such as ensuring a minimum of 50 per cent lower greenhouse gas emissions than comparable factories.

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG completes cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in the heart of the Norwegian forest

BIG revealed images for the design of The Plus in 2020 and the building was opened to the public on 3 June, 2022.

BIG and A-Lab are currently working on a new Innovation District Oslo Science City in Norway. The Twist Museum, opened in 2019, is one of the key projects of BIG. 

Project facts

Project name: The Plus

Architects: BIG

Size: 7,000 M2

Location: Gaustadvegen, Magnor, Norway

Client: Vestre AS

Collaborators: Bollinger+Grohmann (Local engineer), Gade & Mortensen (Acoustic consultant), Nordic Architects AS (BREEAM Certification), Asplan Viak (Ecologist), Erichsen og Horgen AS (Energy calculations), Norconsult (Building Physics consultant), Erichsen og Horgen AS (Mechanical engineer), Foyn Rådgivning (Electrical engineer), Fokus Rådgivning (Fire consultant), Multiconsult (Geotechnical consultant), Fokus Rådgivning (Project management and site administration), ØM Fjeld (Main contractor), Woodcon AS (CLT contractor), Reflex (Façade contractor), Hallås AS, Loe VVS Prosjekt AS, Norconsult AS, COWI AS, Fokus Råd AS, Melby Maskin AS, EMV Construction AS, YC RØR AS, Energima Prosjekt AS, Minel Elinstallasjon AS, Solcellespesialisten AS, TKS Heiser AS, Bygganalyse AS, Evotek AS.

Construction start date: August 2020 

Opening date: June 3rd, 2022

Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, David Zahle, Ole Elkjaer-Larsen 

Project Leader: Viktoria Millentrup 

Project Manager: Eva Seo-Andersen, Tommy Bjørnstrup

Team: Agnieszka Wardzinska, Ákos Márk Horváth, Ariana Szmedra, Cheng-Huang Lin, Claudia Bertolotti, Eduardo Javier Sosa Trevino, Eva Seo-Andersen, Ewa Zapiec, Filip Fot, Frederik Skou Jensen, Jenna Kaisa Hukkinen, Jonas Høgh Rask, Julia Novaes Tabet, Julien Bernard Jacques Picard, Julius Victor Schneevoigt, Ksenia Zhitomirskaya, Luca Pileri, Magni Waltersson, Nanna Gyldholm Møller, Neringa Jurkonyte, Ningnan Ye, Palita Tungjaroen, Rron Bexheti, Steen Kortbæk Svendsen, Thor Larsen-Lechuga, Tobias Hjortdal, Xingyue Huang, Zuzanna Eugenia Montwill 

BIG Engineering: Andrea Hektor, Andrew Robert Coward, Duncan Horswill, Andreas Bak, Edward Durie, Bjarke Koch-Ørvad, Cecilie Søs Brandt-Olsen, Jesper Kanstrup Petersen, Sui King Yu, Tristan Robert Harvey, Miles Treacy, Kaoan Hengles De Lima

BIG Landscape: Giulia Frittoli , Ulla Hornsyld, Ariana Ribas, Marcel Götz, Anne Katrine Sandstrøm, Camille Inès Sophie Breuil 

BIG Sustainability: Tore Banke, Alexander Matthias Jacobson, Frederic Lucien Engasser, Katrine Juul 

All images © Einar Aslaksen.

All drawings © BIG.

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locally-sourced timber timber BIG Vestre CLT