During the 1950s, when couturiers Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli famously tapped the manufacturer Swarovski to create custom crystals for their clothing and jewelry, the collaborations would take months as a prototype or small production batch crisscrossed departments at the company’s Wattens, Austria, factory. But serving the fashion industry today requires speed. A new facility named Swarovski Manufaktur, designed by Snøhetta’s Innsbruck office, was recently opened to keep pace with its dazzling clients. As firm partner Patrick Lüth explains, “If someone like Gaultier needs a special dress or accessory next Friday, Swarovski has no choice but to act fast.”
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The new 81,000-square-foot innovation center replicates Swarovski’s factory in miniature, so design, prototyping, and approval can quickly take place under one roof. Located between existing buildings and a wall at the southern edge of the Wattens campus, the new workshop also opens the site to visitors for the first time, accommodating client presentations, previously done elsewhere. According to Lüth, Snøhetta conceived a volume “somewhat like an outdoor plaza or a central marketplace,” with glare-free daylight and noise-dampening interventions to facilitate productive interaction among the designers, marketing team, and workers who operate the CNC machines and polish the glass.
The building is wedged so tightly onto its site that visitors enter on the second floor via a skybridge from an adjacent structure. To create an agora-like feeling under such cramped conditions, the architects treated the 14,000-square-foot roof as a giant light monitor, punctuating it with 135 skylights installed above a frame of 20-by-10-foot acoustically modified steel bays or coffers. Collaborating with lighting designer Martin Klingler, based in Moosbach, Austria, they developed this solution to provide maximum daylight minus the glare. The coffers are almost 7 feet deep and angled in section to correspond with solar paths, so the sun’s rays never hit the shop floor. Klingler adds that the design team also focused on the quality and specification of the rooftop glazing to attain accurate color rendering and high environmental performance, achieving a low solar heat-gain coefficient and a high color rendering index (CRI) of 94.
The mezzanine-like second level houses offices, showrooms, and presentation areas that overlook 23,000 square feet of production space. The coffers are largely positioned only above this double-height volume, and, while they achieve daylight penetration through the entire space, Klingler installed a combination of recessed linear luminaires and spotlights using 4000K (Kelvin) LEDs to amplify the daylight with a similar color temperature. Ground-floor workrooms tucked under the mezzanine’s overhang benefit most from this boost, as “tailors love to have bright, diffuse light with perfect color rendering,” says Klinger. The lighting designer specified low-glare lamps to accommodate smartphones and computer screens as well.
On the upper level, 16-foot-long panels mounted within ceiling coffers look like the skylights but, in fact, conceal tunable-white LEDs ranging between 2700K and 5500K, with a CRI exceeding 90. These are meant to simulate daylight as well as create a variety of moods. “We are very pleased with how the spaces could be transformed while maintaining harmony with the other, nontunable elements,” says Sally Storey, design director of the London-based Lighting Design International, whom Snøhetta tapped to dramatize the upstairs product displays, using light and shadow. Storey explains that the scheme’s various spot and perimeter lights balance the cool temperatures that best illuminate Swarovski crystals and the warmer tones that humans prefer.
According to Lüth, client and visitor response has been positive. After two notable designers from London toured Swarovski Manufaktur, the architect requested their feedback. They told him that the experience “totally broadened their views about the potential of the company’s products,” says Lüth. “This was not just the result of the physical space,” he adds. “It was also the atmosphere.” To a great extent, this atmosphere is the product of a beautifully effective daylighting scheme that embraces its electric counterpart, illuminating the vision of even the most creative eyes.
Snohetta - Innsbruck, Maria-Theresien-Straße 57, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
+43 512 359050 / snohetta.com
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
[enter names separated by commas, including AIA or other designations where applicable]
HVAC and Electrical: ATP Architekten Ingenieure, Innsbruck
Structural: Baumann + Obholzer, Innsbruck (
Building Physics: Spektrum, Dornbirn
Interior Design: Carla Rumler, Cultural Director, Swarovski
Lighting Design: Lichttechnik Martin Klingler; Sally Story, Lighting Design International
Fröschl, Hall in Tirol, Austria
Unger Stahlbau, Oberwart, Austria
Starmann, Klagenfurt, Austria
Metallbau Platter, Zams, Austria
Riedl, Pfaffing/Lehen, Germany; Barth Innenausbau, Brixen, Italy
Polzinger, Innsbruck, Austria
Erlacher, Barbian, Italy
Gnigler, Innsbruck. Austria
Peru Lichtwerbung, Laufen, Germany
Nocker Metallbau, Navis, Austria
Fiegl & Spielberger, Innsbruck, Austria
Ortner, Innsbruck, Austria
Accuro, Mondsee, Austria
Acoustical wall panels in showrooms: Kvadrat
CLS architetti, Gubi, Vitra, Fritz Hansen, HAY, Baxter, Prooff, Muuto, B&B Italia, Molteni
Vivo 58W LED Spotlight (High-level to manufacturing floor)
Parscan 4W/8W/12W track mounted LED spotlights (Showroom/meeting rooms/offices/workshops)
Move it 25 & Just 45 LED Spotlight (Feature lighting)
Spot Line Move It 25 (General illumination to entrance)
C1 Mini on magnetic track (Within display cabinets)
Oneline (Within showroom display cabinets)
MJ65 linear LED downlights (General illumination to corridor)
HD15 Vario Contour Profile (Staff kitchen)
lighting control system (DALI) as part of the building management system.
Elevators: Fa. Kone
Laufen, Geberit, Wagner EWAR, Vola, Grohe, Franke, Keuco, Tork, Duravit, Kronenbach, Schmiedl