Snøhetta’s Energy Positive Architecture Shows Us How to Make Sustainability Stylish

Ciro Marco Musella
·2 minuto per la lettura
Photo credit: Foto di Ivar Kvaal
Photo credit: Foto di Ivar Kvaal

From ELLE Decor

How can architecture actively become sustainable today? The architects at Snøhetta have asked themselves this very question since the Norwegian studio was founded back in 1989, searching for a harmonious balance between architecture and nature. With over 40% of emissions attributed to the energy sector and industrial construction, “we must take this moment to prioritize sustainable design practices, and specifically consider how our work impacts human and non-human inhabitants alike,” explains founding partner Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. With this in mind, Snøhetta teamed up with R8 Property, Skanska and Asplan Viak, giving the green light for the experimentation and construction of four Powerhouses — sustainable, energy-positive buildings capable of producing more energy than they consume. Their latest, for now, is that in Porsgrunn, in Vestfold and Telemark, chosen for its symbolic industrial past.

Photo credit: Foto di Ivar Kvaal
Photo credit: Foto di Ivar Kvaal

The 11 story building includes spaces for offices, areas for co-working divided by floor, and meeting rooms in the attic with services for employees, including a cafeteria and an enviable rooftop terrace complete with a view of the fjord. Outside, the appearance and form of an irregular prism render the volume immediately recognizable, shaped in part by the designers’ ambitious goals: the southeast facing facade is inclined 45° with the roof, clad in photovoltaic panels to generate nearly twenty times the annual energy consumption of the average Norwegian family. On the remaining sides, the building is protected by wooden cladding for a bit of solar shading.

Photo credit: Foto di Ivar Kvaal
Photo credit: Foto di Ivar Kvaal

Thanks to numerous constructional measures, including windows with triple insulation and the use of concrete slabs capable of storing thermal heat to be released slowly, the building was given BREEAM Excellent ** certification. Architects also aimed to reduce artificial light on-site, with internal environments arranged to accept as much natural light as possible. Finally, close attention was also given to materials — all chosen for their sustainable characteristics, like local wood, plaster and concrete, which was left exposed and not treated.

Photo credit: Foto di Ivar Kvaal
Photo credit: Foto di Ivar Kvaal

Solutions for the internal environments also follow a principle of standardization aimed at reducing waste when new tenants enter the building. The flooring, walls and partitions, just like the kitchens, all feature the same design, color and material. This creates more flexible spaces, allowing those who live here to expand or resize their own space without having to move as new needs arise.

After facing the harsh nature of Tungestølen and The Arc, the team at Snøhetta signs off on their fourth project for Powerhouse, proving that sustainable architecture can be aesthetically captivating, and adding that “we need more industry-wide alliances such as Powerhouse to push industry standards for what is means to build sustainable buildings and cities, both on an economic, social and environmental scale”.

snohetta.com