Solving Cities

IKEA is building a complete London neighborhood

IKEA is building a complete London neighborhood

Posting in Cities

This is either the realization of a fantasy you've had while exploring IKEA or its your worst nightmare: IKEA has designed an entire neighborhood.

This is either the realization of a strange fantasy or your worst nightmare: IKEA is planning to build an entire neighborhood.

Forget tiny apartments, IKEA's bringing their simple and affordable design to a neighborhood in East London. LandProp, the investment arm of IKEA, will develop the 26-acre neighborhood near the city's Olympic Park.

Also known for its designs that intelligently fit a lot into a small space (at least in the displays), it looks like IKEA will take a similar approach to their neighborhood design with a nice mix of housing, offices, and shops. Cars will also be parked underground and the walkability of the neighborhood will be high.

But is this "IKEA urbanism" what we should be striving for? The Pop-Up City wonders if it's a good idea:

[C]an IKEA do the same to urbanism as what it did to interior design? Is it able to create neighborhoods that are as comfortable, cheap, good-looking and popular with the majority as its furniture? Perhaps it can, with its design skills as well as its capacity to organize big areas, as IKEA did to its shops that almost turned into complete villages themselves.

On the other hand, we should conclude that ‘one-size-fits-all urbanism’ will not be good for the variety and attractiveness of cities in general. Imagine the same number of people to live in an IKEA house as owning a Billy cupboard… These neighborhoods are not meant to solve problems or improve the city to some extent. In essence they are there to earn money for the company. The simple idea of IKEA is to give the people what they think they want. But people that have they wanted are bored, unhappy and unsatisfied. I think this neighborhood will feel the same as everything else from IKEA as soon as it’s realized.

We can only speculate how the neighborhood will turn out, but I know one thing for sure: whoever can get ahead of the market on those little hex keys will be doing well for themselves.

"IKEA Urbanism: A New Era in Urban Design?" [The Pop-Up City]

Photo: LandProp

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure