Snøhetta brings a 21st-century approach to Swarovski’s production facilities
If the idea of manufacturing and production facilities brings to mind closed, dark industrial spaces and a dark-box process, think again. Snøhetta’s latest project, Swarovski Manufaktur in Wattens, Austria, breaks all the rules of what an industrial space could look like.
The structure, which is part of the crystal specialist’s larger HQ and campus in the Tyrolian countryside, was conceived to house both production and creative processes; and most importantly merge the two – bringing makers, designers and clients together for co-creating sessions that open up the whole process of innovation.
The space is as welcoming as its purpose suggests. Large, open spaces feature manufacturing lines alongside drawing boards and offices. A centrally placed, dramatic staircase acts as a key circulation core, but also doubles as a meeting space and main ‘forum’ at the heart of the facility.
Part of the Swarovski campus and worldwide headquarters, Manufaktur presents a new approach to 21st century manufacturing facilities. Photography: David Schreyer
The interiors are bright, clean and filled with natural light. Sun shines through the building’s glass-lined sides, but also the ceiling, through openings known as ‘cassettes’. The white steel ceiling incorporates 135 such openings, coated with special material to ensure there is no glare. On top of this, the building meets the criteria of the LEED Gold Standard (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for sustainability.
‘We tried not to interpret the physical properties of crystals in our building geometry’, explains Snøhetta’s Patrick Lüth. ‘Instead, we have tried to understand what makes crystal so special and attractive, and to use these ephemeral qualities to create a specific atmosphere. The space has an incredible amount of daylight penetration which we believe is unparalleled in the typical production facility context. Crystals only come to life with light, so for us it is the intense presence of that daylight that is the most important aesthetic aspect of this building.’ §