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, the Swarovski Manufaktur is a progressive crystal workshop perfectly suited for creative co-creation, rapid prototyping and representation.
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.
“The Swarovski Manufaktur sets a new standard for inclusive fabrication facilities,” says Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Founding Partner of Snøhetta, when summarising 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”.
A Play of Light
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. A key focus for the architects was the incorporation of daylight, which is what makes crystal sparkle.
“We tried not to interpret the physical properties of crystals in our building geometry,” explains Patrick Lüth, Managing Director of Snøhetta’s Studio in Innsbruck. “Instead, we have tried to understand what makes crystal so special and attractive, and to use these ephemeral qualities to create a specific atmosphere. The space has an incredible amount of daylight penetration which we believe is unparalleled in the typical production facility context. Crystals only come to life with light, so for us it is the intense presence of that daylight that is the most important aesthetic aspect of this building.”
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 6×3-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.
Images: (c) Schreyer, David
Architecture: Snøhetta – Innsbruck
Interior Architecture: Snøhetta – Innsbruck, Carla Rumler, Cultural Director Swarovski
Lighting: Martin Klingler – Moosbach, Sally Story – London