With the Swarovski Manufaktur, Snøhetta has created a crystal workshop for the 21st century. This daylight-flooded and generous building is as much a top-notch production facility as it is an innovative creative hub providing Swarovski with new opportunities to work together with customers.
Developed for the Tyrolean crystal manufacturer Swarovski, the structure cleverly merges design, product development and production into one single facility. The new building type allows the company to develop innovative ways to align creative visionary processes with technical production requirements.
A large open staircase, which also serves as a meeting point and arena, provides access to the main floor from the wooden platform which is structurally suspended from the ceiling. Offices, showrooms and presentation rooms are integrated into this wooden sculptural and gallery-like structure.
“The Swarovski Manufaktur sets a new standard for inclusive fabrication facilities,” says Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Founding Partner of Snøhetta, when summarizing the concept. “Bringing clients, designers, artists, researchers, machine operators, technicians and the public into one space under one roof is going to change how we think about these relationships in the future”.
Daylight enters the spacious building through openings in the ceiling, known as “cassettes”. This special ceiling construction comprises 135 openings covered with a protective solar coating that allows daylight to enter gently into the building. The self-supporting white steel ceiling consists of a repetitive 6x3-metre pattern with a slightly skewed grid. The ceiling structure integrates all necessary building services. Perforated acoustic panels covering the ceiling ensure that the building has a pleasant sound level that allows people to converse at a normal voice despite the background noise from the production facilities and machines.
Swarovski Manufaktur is designed to facilitate innovative collaborations, inventive exchange and a rapid implementation of ideas. The design primarily focuses on creating an appealing and stimulating space that encourages creativity rather than focusing on the physical production processes which are a central part of the Manufaktur.
The bright and welcoming atmosphere of the building is emphasized by the material choices. The walls are painted in white, and light birch wood panels cover the floor and the sculptural platform that is the second floor, providing an overview of the generous space of the ground floor. The light atmosphere is particularly emphasized when visitors enter the Manufaktur through a bridge from Campus 311, a new office location in an old factory building with an interior dominated by a dark color palette. In this way, the experience of moving from building to building accentuates the vivid atmosphere of the new space.
At the Manufaktur, the entire production process of the Swarovski crystal is reproduced on a small scale: The main floor contains all the machines necessary to produce prototypes or small crystal series in the shortest possible amount of time. Should technical standards or specifications change, the flexibility of the main floor provides enough space to allow for production to be rearranged to meet the latest technological requirements.
The new factory not only sets a new standard for the future of creative work, but also for sustainability; The building meets the criteria of the LEED Gold Standard (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).