Some assembly required for this vision of future urban living. Known for simple, well-designed, flat-pack furniture, IKEA is proposing expanding their DIY-model to a much larger scale: entire city centers. Democratic Design Days is an annual event where IKEA introduces its upcoming brands and collaborations, this year featuring The Urban Village Project, a collaboration between SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects. After two years of research, SPACE10 (IKEA’s global research and design lab) is releasing their vision to the public for a new way to design, build, and share our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.
In light of the growing housing and environmental crises facing the human population, the project aims to create more livable, sustainable, and affordable homes to address the new and upcoming urban challenges we’ll have to face. Rapid urbanization, an aging population, social isolation, climate change, and a lack of affordable housing all point to a need to rethink our approach to cities and urban life.
With an overarching goal of improving our quality of life, The Urban Village Project includes a multi-faceted approach. Shared living communities provide a variety of options for different types of families and living situations: from a single person, to a group of roommates, to multi-generational families, the housing is designed to be adaptable within a modular building system.
Taking the trademark IKEA route of prefabricated, flat-packed kits, the homes are even designed to be disassembled for future reuse and recycling. Using a sustainable and CO2-reducing method of construction, the buildings will also utilize cross-laminated timber for its environmental and structural performance. These high-quality homes would have access to shared services and facilities, as well as a digital interface for day-to-day management.
“Urban Villages is based on a modular building system which allows us to configure a wide range of different housing typologies for different urban settings. The system is designed for disassembly, unlocking a truly circular material loop where building components and materials can be reused and replaced rather than wasted. This could be a game changer for the building industry.” says Sinus Lynge, partner, EFFEKT Architects
Not only is the design and building of cities being reimagined, but also the financing and development of how cities are formed. To create a lower entry point into the housing market, The Urban Village Project will seek to partner with long-term investors to finance construction. Community land trusts and a cooperative housing system would also encourage the entry of cheaper homes onto the market and secure community interests.
Flexible subscription-based services, on top of a base monthly rate for essentials, allow for better deals on daily needs; each month, residents would also have the option to buy "shares" of real estate. This incremental approach makes homeownership more accessible while also creating a chance to make money in the future as owners progressively gain equity and property values increase.
Today we’re in the middle of a global housing crisis with a seemingly unattainable number of affordable housing units in demand. 1.5 million people move to cities every week, meaning in just over ten years, 1.6 billion people are projected to lack affordable, secure housing. Existing metropolitan areas are also running out of space - approximately 40% of the area that will need to urbanize by 2050 does not yet exist, giving a blank canvas for us to determine the future of urban life.
SPACE10 researched and explored the idea of shared living for two years. Together with EFFEKT Architects and IKEA, SPACE10 have condensed those insights into a concrete concept and vision on which they now ask the world to give feedback.
You can explore the concept of The Urban Village Project here: www.urbanvillageproject.
EFFEKT is a research-based, multidisciplinary architecture and planning studio. Their aim is to create a lasting social, economic and environmental effect ensuring societal value in a local, regional and global context.
Norgram Studio is the Design Director duo of internationally recognized and awarded designers Sebastian Gram & Mathias Høst Normark. Norgram is the design studio behind the digital layer.
SPACE10 is IKEA’s global research and design lab. SPACE10 is on a mission to respond to the major societal changes expected to affect people and our planet in the years to come; alongside that, we’re here to inspire IKEA to find new ways of living up to their original promise of creating a better everyday life for the many people.