BIG designs ‘world's most sustainable furniture factory' in Norway

BIG and Vestre reveal the new design for The Plus, an urban furniture manufacturer company's highly sustainable factory in the Norwegian forest

Vestre offices BIG
(Image credit: Lucian R)

You wouldn't expect to find industrial architecture in a forest, yet this is exactly where the new factory for urban furniture manufacturer Vestre will be located, when it completes in a few years' time. Worry not; the manufacturing facility will not be at odds with its natural surroundings. As its architects, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) explain, this is set to be ‘the world's most sustainable furniture factory.' 

Titled The Plus, the building is conceived as a village, guided by principles such as sustainable architecture and high-efficiency production. The Vestre community will operate within, creating its product using carbon neutral fabrication methods. Meanwhile, the project will double as a public 300-acre park for hiking and camping. 

‘Vestre will be the world’s most sustainable furniture manufacturer,' says the company's CEO Jan Christian Vestre. ‘Building The Plus will be 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.'

Vestre offices BIG view down

(Image credit: Lucian R)

Materials were carefully chosen to fit the concept and include local timber, low-carbon concrete and recycled reinforcement steel. Here, automation will meet nature, as accessible green roofs (where employees and public are invited to stroll and hike) blend with smart robots and digital technologies inside. 

The building's layout is designed to facilitate workflow. There are four branches - the warehouse, the colour factory, the wood factory and the assembly – all of which connect at a central hub. In this are the logistics office and an exhibition centre.


Audemars Piguet Museum BIG

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

‘With Vestre we have imagined a factory that is simultaneously front of house and back of house,' says Bjarke Ingels. ‘The beauty of the factory is the clarity of its organization. Conceived as the intersection of a road and a production line it forms a large plus connecting everything to everything. The radical transparency invites visitors and hikers to enjoy the whole process of manufacturing while providing the workers the thrill of working in the middle of the forest.'

The Plus is set to become the first industrial building in the whole Nordic region to achieve BREAM Outstanding, which is the highest environmental certification of its kind.

Vestre offices BIG forest

(Image credit: Lucian R)

Vestre offices BIG interior

(Image credit: Lucian R)

Vestre offices BIG atrium

(Image credit: Lucian R)

Vestre offices BIG workspace

(Image credit: Lucian R)

Vestre offices BIG the plus

(Image credit: Lucian R)

Vestre offices BIG exterior

(Image credit: Lucian R)

Vestre offices BIG ramp

(Image credit: Lucian R)

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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).