International architecture and design firm Snøhetta recently completed Powerhouse Brattørkaia in Trondheim, Norway - the world’s northernmost energy-positive building. The project brings forth a new standard for the construction of the buildings of tomorrow by producing more energy than it consumes.
The 18,000 sqm powerhouse sits by the Trondheim Fjord where its façade, clad in black aluminium, renders beautiful reflections in the harbour. It houses office spaces for a diversity of commercial tenants, including construction and shipping firms, along with a space for public programmes.
As sunlight varies greatly between seasons in the city, the site has been carefully chosen to ensure maximum exposure to the sun. A skewed, pentagonal roof and the upper section of the façade clad in 3000 sqm of solar panels harvest as much solar energy as possible, while ample space for energy storage designed within the building footprint caters to winter months when daylight is at a minimum.
The building’s sloping roof reveals a cut-out in the centre of its plan that allows daylight to flow into the various office spaces. Within this illuminated core is an atrium that functions as a public garden with horizontal glass windows on its sides. This skewed lightwell controls the amount of artificial lighting that is used inside the building while creating a comfortable and naturally lit working environment.
The mantra of the design industry should not be ‘form follows function’ but ‘form follows environment’. This means that the design thinking of today should focus on environmental considerations and reducing our footprint first, and have the design follow this premise. –Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Founder, Snøhetta
The building leverages a series of technologies to radically reduce energy use for its daily operations. This is accomplished through insulating the building for maximum efficiency and installing solutions for air flow to reduce the need for heating. Taken together, the various strategies allow Powerhouse Brattørkaia to consume only about half the amount of energy for lighting than a typical commercial office building of a comparable size would.
A visitor centre and a cafeteria on the ground floor open to the people of Trondheim as an educational resource to disseminates knowledge on sustainable building strategies for the future.
The buildings we inhabit and spend most of our lives in need to be built with as much consideration for natural preservation and energy efficiency as for the comfort of the people inside them. As the world’s northernmost energy-positive building, Powerhouse Brattørkaia has set a benchmark for responsibly constructing homes and office spaces for the future.
Name of the project: Powerhouse Brattørkaia
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Client: Entra ASA
Gross area: 17, 800 sqm
Collaborators: Entra, Skanksha, ZERO, Snøhetta and Asplan Viak