Bjarke Ingels Group and Vestre, a furniture maker in Norway, opened up the PLUS. This is a furniture factory but it’s a whole lot more. In fact, it’s also an experience center and a 300-acre public park. This is an entire manufacturing village.

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An aerial view of a building set in an X within a forest

The PLUS is an enormous facility that also has areas for public hiking, camping and enjoying nature. How many factories in the world have public hiking trails do you think? The PLUS is a green manufacturing hub and it could become a model for manufacturing facilities of the future.

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A building hidden in a forest

Additionally, the facility is made of local timber, low-carbon concrete and recycled steel. It is expected to become the first industrial building to achieve the BREEAM Outstanding Rating, the highest environmental honor in construction. The plan, according to CEO of Vestre Stefan Tjust, is to create “the world’s most environmentally-friendly furniture factory.”

A hallway with a circular glass center

The facility has four main production halls. These areas house the color factory, warehouse, wood factory and assembly. These wings connect at the center to form a plus-sign shape, which is what gives the PLUS its name. This allows for efficient workflow between all the literal arms of manufacturing. Moreover, it creates a pretty cool experience for visitors. It’s a simple layout that can be immediately understood and followed. To make it even easier, the interior is color-coded. Specifically, all the production units are built with cross-laminated timber.

A hallway of the PLUS

As a result, the process of making furniture are visible. Other companies hide their secrets, fearing corporate espionage and copycats. This factory is open, visible and nothing is hidden. The goal is to share knowledge of sustainable manufacturing processes, not to hide them. The furniture is made from locally-sourced wood and the facility is powered with hydropower. The public can visit the energy and clean water center to learn more about sustainable, circular energy.

A circle cutout that goes straight through the building starting from the roof where multiple people are standing

A public, circular courtyard is part of the central hub. This is where the latest furniture collections will be displayed. It’s also a visitor area where several factory processes can be viewed. The design includes inclined roofs that create viewing areas into the production halls and the forest outside. The public forest is sprinkled with huge pieces of furniture. The hiking trail outside the factory leads to the green roof. This is where 900 photovoltaic panels harness the sun’s energy. The green roof is ADA-accessible as well.

A stairway with kids racing up it

The PLUS will generate 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a more standard, conventional factory. Maybe one day, designs like this won’t be a rarity. They’ll be the norm.

+ Bjarke Ingels Group

Images via BIG