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Calling it the most sustainable factory of its kind in the world, outdoor furniture maker Vestre has opened the doors of its $30 million facility in Magnor, Norway.
While Sweden’s Ikea gets most of the glory when it comes to sustainability, outdoor furniture maker Vestre is giving the giant for its money. Designed by Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the new Vestre factory is centered on a 300-acre forested area near Magnor village, close to the Swedish border. Plus shape design started 18 months ago with sustainability at the heart of the design.
The factory project
“Fun, democracy and sustainability are at the heart of the Vestre brand and everything they do; our colorful woodworking factory in the middle of the Norwegian forest – surrounded by a public forest park where the local community can come and experience the gigantic Vestre furniture pieces scattered throughout – lives and breathes this philosophy,” said David Zahle, partner at BIG . in a statement.
“There are no industrial buildings that come anywhere near the highest standard, not even the second highest,” Viktoria Millentrup, design lead at BIG, told Dezeen. “So in terms of BREEAM, there wasn’t even one building example that we could follow.”
“It’s not traditional for a factory to focus so much on sustainability,” Zahle said. “For many companies, production is about keeping costs down and hiding them.”
Although the factory was built within a forest, it is not at the expense of the trees.
“Usually when we build a building in the middle of the forest, we take out a lot more trees,” said project design manager Sindre Myrlund.
“Originally, we drew a line 10 meters from the factory, which is more normal. And Vestre moved the line five meters and said: ‘if you need to remove more trees, you have to ask and approve’”.
The manufacturing ‘wings’ that extend from the center are concentrated in different areas of the business: there is the Fábrica da Cor, Fábrica da Madeira, assembly and the warehouse. The wings meet in a central courtyard. The design embraces Norwegian culture The right of public access— the concept of “roaming right”, so that there are no fences or borders, says the company.
Sustainability at Vestre
The factory uses renewable energy, water recovery and purification, among other sustainability metrics. This reduces energy consumption by 60% and emissions by 55%. The roof is covered by local vegetation, as well as 900 solar panels. The property also includes 17 geothermal wells and wall-mounted heat pumps to capture excess heat.
The 7,000-square-meter factory was built primarily of wood – PEFC-certified cross-laminated wood and glue-laminated wood. Its structure stores 1,400 tons of COtwosaid the company.
The building also features Passivhaus’ energy efficiency strategies, as well as robotic production lines that help reduce energy use by 90% compared to conventional factory lines.
“Plus is a factory for people,” said Stefan Tjust, CEO of Vestre. “It’s a project into which we put a huge amount of soul and energy. This is an important day for us, but also for the Norwegian mainland industry and Scandinavian export cooperation.”
The structure also houses Norway’s tallest slide – yes, a slide – which runs down the side of the building to the forest floor.
Zahle says the project is “very transparent,” citing it as “almost open source” about how products are made and the open facade “to bring people together,” he said.
“You invite people to play and you invite people to go up on the roof and you create a park around it so that even a factory can become part of creating a good life.”