2012-04-17

Co.Exist

Inside The London Neighborhood That Will Be Built By Ikea

Will it be just like a walk through an Ikea store? Will there be meatballs? Finally, details emerge from the furniture company’s urban planning scheme.

Last year, we wrote about Strand East, a planned neighborhood outside London that will be built by furniture giant Ikea (to be more specific, it will be built by LandProp, the development arm of the group that owns Ikea’s intellectual property).

At the time, we were given a handful of details on the project: the 2,000,000-square-foot development will contain 480,000 square feet of commercial office space, 1,200 homes, a shared community "hub," a restaurant, a zone for creative businesses, a hotel, bike routes, pedestrian walkways, and a shiny new bus route. It will be a mostly vehicle-free zone; drivers will park in an underground garage at the development’s entrance, while emergency vehicles, buses, and delivery trucks will be allowed through.

Now the Globe and Mail has visited the site of the future development and emerged with new information. Here’s what the paper found out:

  • The Strand East development will feature condo towers (up to 11 stories tall), apartments, townhouses, and two- and three-story homes. 40% of the homes will be big enough for families.
  • There will be abundant pedestrian walkways and public areas.
  • The piece of land that Strand East will inhabit is pretty dismal in its current state. Globe and Mail calls it an "expanse of ancient rusting machinery, waste piles, and grinding construction equipment." Ikea to the rescue!
  • There won’t be an Ikea store in the development. Or unlimited meatballs.
  • Ikea will own all the houses--the neighborhood will be all rentals.
  • The company will manage things like trash collection and crime prevention. It will also promote community events and shops, including farmers markets and antique stores. Ikea will have full control over all the commercial facilities, so it can decide what the community needs.
  • Ikea will be akin to the town’s municipal government.

The question remains: Will people feel comfortable living in an Ikea-owned community? Chances are, the company will take good care of the place. The apartments and houses will probably be reasonably priced, judging by Ikea’s rhetoric about "doing something for the people" in the town. And everything will be constructed with a "Swedish philosophy mentality"--meaning buildings will feature high energy efficiency and extensive insulation to withstand the elements. Sure, there won’t be much spontaneity in future development, but how much does that matter?

A lot, possibly, but Ikea will soon find out. Construction is expected to begin next year.

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5 Comments

  • yellowicepick

    Very exciting, to wait for developments.

    Seems to be a first - to have an entire community overtly run by a corporation.  Looking forward to more updates!

  • Tom

    IKEA's products are excessively polluting, poisonous due to the excessive use of glue and perform poorly for durability. Not quite the example you want to set for 'sustainable' operations, is it? An IKEA neighborhood? No thanks!

  • Declanembley

    "The company will manage things like trash collection and crime prevention" - a profit-making company in charge of crime prevention? What could possibly go wrong!?
     
    "Ikea will have full control over all the commercial facilities" - is this the kind of monopoly that should be encouraged?
     
    "Chances are, the company will take good care of the place" - do they actually have any obligation to do so...what happens if they should go bankrupt? Will the whole project fall apart?
     
    Just a few ideas, overall it seems like a nice idea but maybe we should look carefully at the finer points...

  • Ariel Schwartz

    There's no telling how this experiment will go, but my assertion that Ikea will take care of the place is based on the fact that this is a long-term investment for them. Is there the chance that something will go wrong? Of course.