The new Ikea store in Vienna has no parking. But it has 160 trees that contribute to making it a small microclimate. The building is not a compact and closed block, but rather a porous building, almost a gigantic shelf, which allows the sun, air and light to reach its interior and, above all, does not take away any air or light from the buildings. that surround him.
It also has a roof terrace occupied by a large terrace open to the public. And as its architects indicate – the Austrians Jakob Dunkl (1963); Gerd Erhartt (1964) and Peter Sapp (1961) from the Querkraft Architekten studio―, wants to be a good neighbor. Neighborhood, coexistence. And kindness. This respect for what exists is rare in contemporary commerce: more so in one that moves large volumes of merchandise, accustomed to moving citizens to the outskirts attracted by low prices, thus encouraging the use of cars in cities.
This building is committed to the opposite. And, beyond a commercial decision, it implies a paradigm shift. Ikea may now have to adapt its prices – due to the higher cost of living downtown – or it may decide to earn less in some of its stores. Customers should also consider whether it is convenient to buy furniture by arriving at that store by subway. Or walking. And if they are willing to pay for alternative transportation that will add cost to their product. In short, it is about questioning the way of buying, consuming and building the city. What is at stake is that: the air of the metropolises, the health of their citizens and the present of the planet.
Thus, the building, which is one of the finalists for the Mies van der Rohe Prize, is shaded by its own openings, which function as 4.5 meter deep shelves. The decoration store occupies the ground floors and a hostel, the Jo&Joe, has been built on top of them. Everyone, guests, clients and citizens, has access to the rooftop converted into a public plaza. There, the photovoltaic panels that supply electricity to the building contribute to shading it and coexist, in a viewpoint over the city, with trees and the space prepared to see them grow.
Beyond reducing its size, coexisting with other businesses, and relocating to the center, the property also turns Ikea’s traditional spatial organization on its head, choosing, this time, short distance, direct access to goods. Built with prefabricated columns and 10×10 meter modules, the property is, one could almost say, just another piece of furniture.
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