12/21/2011

Comments: IKEA Urban Project in London

What to think of IKEA and its urban project in Stratford, East London. This will be a 26-acre site near the Olympic Park with two waterways that will surround the site with the aim of creating a "mini-venice" according to Pop up City.
Model of the IKEA Urbanism. Originally appeared on The Pop Up City

This urban project will provide all the specific needs for its resident: moorings, water taxi service, and even a floating cocktail bar. As The Huffington Post reports, The aim is to create a friendly neighbourhood idyll, with courtyards and a public square to encourage interaction, and the unsightly aspects of life will be kept to a minimum. Cars will be parked underground and rubbish will be discreetly disposed of through undergound tunnes. A school, health surgery and nursery will be built to minimise inconvenient travel.

According to the model above, this IKEA Urbanism seems idyllic. It will propose 1,200 affordable housing in a simple but efficient design. Blocks of housing with two and more storeys including balconies, green areas and courtyards are surrounded by green area. As for the buildings, the design will be simple and minimalist. The key element to this project is to provide flexible, comfortable and efficient housing at low cost. Housing aside, it will provide shops, cafés and a 350-room hotel.
Housing model by IKEA and BoKlok. Originally appeared on The Pop Up City

This is time to pause and look at this project in another way. Indeed, this IKEA Urbanism raises lots of questions among others: As Pop Up City pointed out, can IKEA do the same to urbanism as what it did to interior design? What does IKEA Urbanism propose, of course affordable housing, shops, cafés, hotel, and a dreaming site aside? Will this neighborhood project really produce positive outcomes — outcomes that will allow this new neighborhood to contribute to environmental sustainability? These questions, but also many others, will find their answer when the project being completed, say, by 2013. Yet let me share my skeptical view about the result. I might be wrong but IKEA project seems be nothing but the reflect of this assembly-line buildings model quoted by Rem Koolhaas. I cannot stop repeating: the fact of providing affordable buildings is a good idea as housing weakness is no doubt an important issue not only in the UK but also, broadly, in Europe, the U.S. However it would worth being better to avoid "standardized buildings". It's worth figuring this project out, and beyond the issue of neighborhood design: How to design neighborhood that will be affordable, flexible, as well as ecologically friendly, while avoiding the 'standardization' of housing? Even though I have no doubt that the neighborhood design will be impressive, I am afraid this project beeing labelled "IKEA" as it is the case with IKEA's interior design and products. But let's wait for the building being completed…

Source: Huffington Post, Pop Up City

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