Bjørnar builds the ‘Tesla’ of commercial space

“I hope we can lead the way and inspire,” says Project Manager Bjørnar Gullbrekken.


“Are you sure it’s here?”

The taxi driver looks inquiringly across the construction site.

On our way from central Trondheim to Sluppenveien 19, where ‘Lysgården’ is being built, we talked about the building designed to be the most intelligent office space in the world.

“No robots, then? I was hoping for robots.”

The driver laughs and adds that he will nevertheless drop by when the area has become more than a concrete jungle.

It will be quite some wait before he’ll see physical robots, but that’s not what we’re talking about. Hopefully, he will be just as excited to see what the Project Manager in Veidekke, Bjørnar Gullbrekken, is soon to tell us about.

Bjørnar Gullbrekken and Trygve Karlsen took part in the construction of Miljøbygget (Environmental Building) in Trondheim 10 years ago. Now they are at it again – with technology from Siemens. Photo: Johanne Hoff, DNX

The switch-less building

A few metres from the Lysgården building site, you see the portable service facilities and Gullbrekken’s temporary office. Together with partner and Project Manager Trygve Karlsen, he drinks coffee from a thermos and gesticulates fervently.

“Switch-less, the building will be completely switch-less,” he says.

He has dreamed of both the project and the Sluppen site since 2014. Set to be completed in 2019, the building will become Veidekke’s headquarters, among other things.

“You know... today everyone walks around with their phones in their pockets at all times. We use it as a key to our bank accounts, cars and houses – yet we have physical access cards to the office, for instance. As individuals, we are good at adopting new technology, yet still many buildings are being constructed that will be outdated in a few years.”

Gullbrekken adds:

“You also manage buildings according to expected use, not actual use. When Lysgården is finished, we’ll have a building that relates to facts.”


It all started with an ambitious wish list. Bjørnar Gullbrekken and Veidekke were looking for a supplier that could deliver on most of their technological dreams.

Siemens opted in with MindSphere.

MindSphere, Siemens’ Cloud Solution for the Internet of Things (IoT), ensures that all of the building’s features are operated by employees using a phone app. Here, there are no access cards, light switches, ventilation displays or systems with which to book meetings or keep track of which parts of the office are in use.

In practical terms, this means that Lysgården will be fully self-regulating. This will save costs and time and reduce environmental impact.

“Say there are 40 people at work, 35 of them are sitting in one part of the building and five are spread out elsewhere... the building will sense this and move the people closer to each other in order to reduce consumption. Even power outlets will turn off when not needed. Lysgården will also learn what preferences each employee has in terms of temperature and light. And employees who need to know the location of others with whom they work closely will be able to find each other via the app,” says Trygve Karlsen.

Inspiring the whole industry

Bjørnar Gullbrekken says that you can have a lot of fun with the technical features and that employees are joking about surveillance as well as coffee being ready when they arrive for work. Nevertheless, the most important aspect is the environmental impact.

“To me personally, the environmental perspective is the most motivating factor. It will be a great climate-friendly building. Through its 60-year lifespan we will have reduced our impact by 30 percent, thus contributing far beyond the two-degree target. Via the app, I will be able to monitor my own carbon footprint every day – it even knows if I have cycled or driven to work. Food waste in the cafeteria can be prevented, and yes – nothing is impossible.”

Gullbrekken explains that he is basically not a tech geek. He says that if you ask his sons they would roll over laughing at him being called a technological person. To him it’s the environmental aspect that is the primary driver.

“This has always been the case, but now also in combination with technology. What makes me happy to go to work is contributing to new value creation beyond the expected. That an office building should not only be an office building, but also proof of what is possible.”

The core idea is to use technology to create the most climate-friendly building in the world.

I hope we can go ahead and inspire the whole industry to change over time because I think that fixing our workplaces, at least here in Europe, will go far toward solving the climate crisis. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s a realistic idea... and surely it is. That gets me going.”

This is what the exterior of the building will look like with changing light. Photo: Veidekke

Constantly updated

We move from the building site barracks to the construction site. Construction Manager Karlsen points to different parts of the structure and tells us about the skeleton of Lysgården (i.e. Light Yard), which is smart too.

“It will be a robust building, while the façade will become exactly what the name implies: light. The façade, which is also energy neutral, will change its colour in response to the surrounding natural light.”

The two contractors compare Lysgården with a Tesla. In the same way as the supercar, the building will be continuously updated with the latest useful features.

“When we move in here, Siemens will have delivered the entire basic structure and requested features. Once every six months, the features will be updated, thus allowing the build to constantly be state-of-the-art. Our only limitation is our imagination.”