Entering an Ikea store feels like crossing the border of a meticulously decorated, vaguely Scandinavian country. But what if the principles of an Ikea store were actually used to build a real-life development? In London, the recently announced Strand East project, a 2,000,000-square-foot development to be built by LandProp (the development arm of the Inter Ikea Group, which owns Ikea’s intellectual property) gives us a hint.
Strand East, set to be built south of the Olympic Park in Stratford, will feature 1,200 homes, 480,000 square feet of commercial office space, a "hub area" with shared space for the community, a creative zone intended for creative-minded businesses to take root, a restaurant, a hotel, pedestrian walkways, cycle routes, and a new bus route. LandProp reportedly paid nearly $39 million for the site.
The development won’t house buildings filled with Billy bookcases and Lack side tables, but it will take some lessons from Ikea, explains Harald Muller, managing director of LandProp. "We want to make developments which are done for families, that have good design and good quality, but also a certain simplicity."
Like the 30 developments that LandProp has already built in Europe, Strand East will be built with a "Swedish philosophy mentality," says Muller. That means constructing buildings to withstand extreme weather, with extensive insulation and high energy efficiency.
Strand East will also be free of vehicle traffic—upon entering the development, drivers will head straight to an underground garage. Vehicles will be allowed inside, of course (especially buses, delivery vans, and emergency vehicles), but their presence will be minimized. "This goes back to the Ikea philosophy of doing something for the people," says Muller.
Don’t start packing your bags for London quite yet. LandProp is currently preparing its application for a planning permit, and it will formally apply for one in January 2012. If all goes well, the company expects to start construction in 2013.