VESTRE HAS BUILT
THE MOST SUSTAINABLE
FACTORY IN THE WORLD
With The Plus, the Norwegian furniture producer Vestre has set a new gold standard for sustainable production – and is leading the way towards a greener shift.
Hanna Nova Beatrice
“To achieve something like this you need a truly visionary leader like Jan Christian Vestre. He is one of the most passionate and dedicated people I have ever met and as an architect, you’re only as good as your client,” says David Zahle, Partner and Lead Architect at BIG during the preview of the factory The Plus. Together with Viktoria Millentrup, Design Lead at BIG, he has been in charge of realising Vestre's factory The Plus, which opened in June after a remarkably quick building process of only 18 months. Vestre is a family-owned Norwegian outdoor furniture producer creating long-lasting designs with a “lifetime guarantee”. Their aim with The Plus, the biggest investment in the Norwegian industry in decades, was to build the world's most environmentally friendly furniture factory – and at the same time prove that it is possible to achieve profitable and environmentally friendly manufacturing in a high-cost country.
The Plus is the first project of its kind to achieve the highest environmental BREEAM rating ”Outstanding” and most of the innovations implemented in the factory are used in this setting for the first time. The factory has an efficiency rating of A+, 900 solar panels installed on the roof and in the area around the factory and it will generate 55 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional factory. One of the most remarkable parts is the attention to detail throughout the entire factory. The colouring of the machinery – from mint green to bubble gum pink – is made in collaboration with Note design studio and is one of many efforts to create a pleasant and healthy work environment which is attractive for a younger generation.
Keeping as much of the existing commercial forest intact when building the factory, Vestre has also redefined the role a factory can play in a community by turning the surrounding area into a forest camp open to visitors and engaging the local community. In time they will add public artworks, playgrounds, picnic areas and spaces for cultural and historical exhibitions for visitors to enjoy, and the factory is built to be “radically transparent”, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout and no gates or restricted areas on the campus. “We want Vestre Forest Camp to be a destination mentioned on TripAdvisor as a recommended place to visit in Norway,” says Millentrup.
With The plus, Vestre has set a new gold standard for sustainable production and with a jam-packed visitors schedule ahead of them, they hope to inspire the whole industry in the necessary shift to a greener economy and to “build a bridge between the Greta Thunberg generation and industrialists.” Still a majority owner of the family business, Jan Christian Vestre has since left his role as CEO of the company to continue his quest for green industry – now in his new role as the Minister of Trade and industry in Norway.