The Norwegian Fjord Office Building That Produces 2 Times More Energy Than Used

The Powerhouse Brattorkaia office building was just finished in Trondheim, Norway, by Shohetta. It instantly stands out because it is a building that produces two times the electricity that is consumed every single day.

Powerhouse Brattorkaia is located on the harbor that overlooks Trondheim Fjord. It is an angular office building that is wrapped by an impressive 3,000 square meters of solar panels. It is these panels that produce the energy needed for the entire building, together with city transport and some neighboring buildings.

The hope is that this is a new standard that will become reality in the construction industry due to the current climate crisis, all without having to make a compromise when it comes to aesthetics.

Kjetil Traedal Thorsen, Shohetta founder, declared:

“Energy-positive buildings are the buildings of the future. 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.”

Powerhouse Brattorkaia covers 18,000 square meters and is directly linked to a train station with a pedestrian bridge. Visitors can also enjoy a café on the ground floor. The visitor centre added aims to educate people on sustainable building strategies and how the building was built to be sustainable.

The roof has an interesting pentagonal shape. It, together with the entire upper façade, are clad with solar panels covering 3,000 square meters. Shohetta actually created the form in order to harvest the most possible solar energy. Since we are faced with a northern location, you can imagine this is a challenge as daylight hours are limited.

Andreas Nygaard, senior architect, said:

“Given the building’s location this far north, the harvesting of solar energy is challenging as sunlight varies greatly across the day and seasons. The solar panels produce the most energy when the angle towards the sun is 90 degrees. Thus, in order to harvest enough energy for the building to be net energy positive over its lifespan, the roof needs to be relatively steep – 19 degrees in this case – to be optimized in relation to the angle of the sun.”

During the course of a year, panels generate around 500,000 KW hours of renewable, clean energy. The surplus energy that is collected during the summer will be stored in huge batteries so that it can be used during the dark winter months.

The building works as a pretty small power plant located right in the middle of the city, offering renewable energy to neighboring buildings, itself, electric busses, boats and cars.

As you look at the office building you instantly notice that it complements the neighboring buildings, while the angular form is meant to make it stand out. The waterfront façade is the building’s slimmest face and is clad with solar panels and black aluminum. Then, on the opposite side, there is a huge puncture at the roof. This is what forms the building’s atrium, which does double down as light well feeding daylight and public gardens.

There is also the liquid light artificial lighting system that can smoothly dim ups up and down based on building activity so that artificial light dependence is reduced.

Due to the use of all these strategies, the Powerhouse Brattorkaia only consumes around 50% of the energy that is normally needed for a commercial office building.