When Jan Christian Vestre, CEO of the family-owned urban furniture company Vestre, wanted to build a new factory, he had big ideas of what the facility could—and should—be. “We want to produce smarter and greener and faster,” says Vestre. “Even more important: We want to bridge the gap between climate, nature, biodiversity, and the need for new jobs and economic growth.” The result is the Vestre Plus, a 70,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in Magnor, Norway, designed with Bjarke Ingels Group, which broke ground earlier this year. In addition to incorporating environmental innovations that reduce the plant’s carbon footprint (such as solar panels and a fleet of Tesla trucks), the Vestre Plus redefines the role a factory can play in its surrounding community: It’s set on 300 acres that the company plans to turn into a public park (a fitting setting for the benches, picnic tables, and urban furniture Vestre is known for). The factory itself will be “radically transparent,” with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout and no gates or restricted areas on the campus.
Each wing of the Vestre factory will be dedicated to a different step in the manufacturing process and color coded with bright, whimsical tones that mirror those used in Vestre’s furniture. “I wanted it to feel like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Vestre says, noting that applying colorful powder coats to the industrial machines will be one of the trickiest parts of the factory’s construction.
Topped with solar panels and made of wood and other green materials, the factory is expected to produce 50% fewer greenhouse emissions than similar facilities, with 90% lower energy demand.
Vestre hopes that the Vestre Nature Camp will entice visitors from all over the world to come see how his factory works. “The manufacturing industry is mostly ugly buildings. It’s not eco-friendly, and it’s not architecturally driven at all,” he says. “We want people to come and see how we’ve done it, and get inspired and bring it back home.”
Form meeting function
The Plus isn’t Vestre’s first foray into high-design facilities: Snøhetta designed its headquarters in Oslo and another plant in Torsby, Sweden. Vestre hopes that younger generations will appreciate the marriage of design, sustainability, and function, and consider careers in manufacturing.