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Why this see-through factory was built in the middle of a forest

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Though the new Vestre furniture factory outside Oslo claims to be the world’s most sustainable factory, a more defendable title is that it’s the first to be influenced by Saturday morning cartoons.

[Photo: Einar Aslaksen/courtesy Vestre]The factory’s designer, architect Bjarke Ingels and his firm Bjarke Ingels Group, tapped into some childhood memories of Danish TV when devising the project’s design concept. As an interlude between cartoons, television stations would sometimes play brief films from inside factories, showing how everyday products like shoes and pencils were manufactured.

“It was mesmerizing to watch these processes,” Ingels says by phone from Copenhagen. He decided to build that same sense of wonder directly into the factory itself.

[Photo: Einar Aslaksen/courtesy Vestre]Vestre specializes in outdoor furniture for public spaces, like benches, planters, and garbage cans, and its early guidance to Ingels included a goal of transparency in the way it makes its products. The new factory, shaped like a plus sign, is where the company processes most of its wood, from sawing to painting to assembly. Outside sits a vast pine forest that the company has turned into a path-spliced public park.

Between the company’s main raw material outside and the processed wooden furniture inside are walls of clear glass, a literal nod to transparency. Like those Saturday morning........

© Fast Company

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