Blue & Yellow & Green All Over

23. January 2020
Image: IKEA am Westbahnhof

IKEA has started construction on its new store in central Vienna designed by querkraft architekten. Once complete in 2021, the building will be covered with 160 trees — and have zero parking spaces.

IKEA is billing the store design as "innovative and environmentally friendly," since the trees will provide a pleasant microclimate and shoppers will be encouraged to carry their purchases home or have larger items delivered in lieu of driving to the store. The new "green" construction — which, it should be noted, entailed the demolition of the not-so-small "Blaues Haus" — is part of a trend in placing IKEA stores in urban centers rather than on suburban fringes, with the former served by public transit and the latter requiring an automobile trip. IKEA has followed the lead of other big-box stores by creating scaled-down stores in urban centers (e.g., its "City Expansion" in the US), but the Westbahnhof store in Vienna sees the Swedish furniture company transporting one of its large stores to an urban area, minus the parking.

Image: IKEA am Westbahnhof

A bright yellow and blue box would hardly work just steps from Vienna's main station, so querkraft architekten, working with IKEA's in-house architects, designed a building that is more porous and overtly green, playing down IKEA's branded colors. An exposed steel structure defines the building's perimeter, with a 4.5-meter-deep zone — likened by querkraft to shelves, such as those that carry IKEA's flat-packed furniture — alternatively serving as room expansions, terraces, greenery, vertical circulation, and building services. 

At ground level the exterior walls are recessed to create arcades make the store inviting to passersby, something that is echoed the roof, a publicly accessible space that will be open even when IKEA isn't. IKEA will not be the building's only tenant, though, as two floors beneath the roof will serve as a JO&JOE youth hostel, and a trio of businesses (hairdresser, baker, hearing aid specialist) evicted from the old building will move into the arcades along Mariahilferstrasse.

Image: IKEA am Westbahnhof

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