The energy sector and building industry account for over 40% of global industry’s heat-trapping emissions combined. As the world’s population and the severity of the climate crisis continue to grow, precipitating global disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic, architects are challenged to work across industries to build more responsibly.
As part of the Powerhouse series, Powerhouse Telemark sets a new standard for the construction of environmentally sustainable buildings by reducing its yearly net energy consumption by 70% compared to similar new-construction offices, and by producing more energy than it will consume over its entire lifespan. Through standardized interior solutions and co-working spaces, tenants can scale their office spaces as needed, granting much needed flexibility in a global context where remote working solutions continue to increase in demand.
In obtaining the BREEAM Excellent certification as proof of their bold sustainability ambitions, Powerhouses stand as beacons of sustainable design not only in their local communities, but also function as models for how the world can embrace sustainable architecture and design at large in the future.
Just like its ambitious sister projects Powerhouse Kjørbo, Powerhouse Montessori and Powerhouse Brattørkaia, Powerhouse Telemark aspires to be model for environmentally, socially and economically sustainable architecture, while also challenging our conception of what our offices might look like in the post COVID-19 era.
The skewed and slightly conical building features a clearly defined 45° tilting notch on the east-facing façade, giving it a clearly identifiable expression that stands out in the industrial context of the surrounding Herøya industry park.
The building’s striking 24° tilted roof gently slopes to surpass the extremities of the building’s volume, expanding the roof’s surface and ensuring a maximum amount of solar energy can be harvested both from the photovoltaic canopy and the building’s PV-cell clad south-facing façade.
Inside, the building features a barception, office space, including two stories of co-working spaces, a shared staff restaurant, penthouse meeting spaces and a roof terrace overlooking the fjord. The tiles of the barception desk are made by recycled tiles from the local porcelain factory, Porsgrunds Porselænsfabrik. Snøhetta has also designed the wayfinding for the building.
Erik Jørgensen’s Corona chairs have been given new life. The local handicraft association Grenland husflidslag has applied a new crocheted upholstering to these iconic chairs made by left over yard from the Norwegian wool factory Gudbrandsdalens uldvarefabrikk.
The south-east facing façade and roof of Powerhouse Telemark will generate 256 000 kWh each year, approximately twenty times the annual energy use of an average Norwegian household, and surplus energy will be sold back to the energy grid.
To the west, north-west and north-east the building is clad with wooden balusters providing natural shading on the most sun exposed façade.
Functioning just as a passive house, the building is super insulated and features triple isolated windows throughout. The concrete slabs lend the building a density akin to that of a stone structure storing thermal heat during the day and slowly emitting heat during the evening.
A low ex system with water loops in the border zones of each floor, assures that the building is efficiently cooled and heated through geothermal wells dug 350 meters below ground.
The interior design of the building is built upon a principle of standardization to reduce unnecessary waste as new tenants move into the building. The flooring, glass walls, office dividers, kitchenettes, lighting, and bathrooms have been given the same design, color, and materiality across all floors.
To reduce the need for artificial lighting to an absolute minimum, the building has a conservative but efficient lighting system.
The material palette of Powerhouse Telemark is chosen for its environmentally sustainable qualities. Throughout, the building features sturdy materials known for resilience and low-embodied energy. This means using materials such as local wood, gypsum and environmental concrete which is left exposed and untreated.