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April 03, 2007

Richard Florida


« Global Quality of Life Rankings | Main | Airports and Cities »

IIkeatownkea which revolutionized home furnishing and brought clean simple designs to kitchens worldwide is now setting its sights on doing the same for housing, launching a new line of pre-fab houses. Imagine a world where faux-colonials and faux-cods were replaced by something more simple, elegant, functional and affordable. Am I dreaming...... The full story is here.


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In Swedish newspapers some days ago, IKEA also presented possible future plans of selling computers...The only thing that is holding them back is the fear of decreasing the value of their trademark by using it in relation with too many product segments.


Are these homes going to last as long as their dressers etc... -- 2 or 3 years? Do I have to put it together myself? can I strap to the top of my car?


David - I have an extra allen wrench if you need it. Seriously, think about what it could do, not just for suburban development, but for urban infill, if you could go buy a lot in a great in-city neighborhood and go to Ikea and buy a modernist pre-fab house to put on it. And the kitchen cabinets last longer than the dressers, or so I've heard....

Michael Wells

Back in the early 20th century Sears sold mail order do-it-yourself houses and you'll see them in many small towns across America. Then there was Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian crackerboxes, now treasures.

I think this is a way to go not only for Americn infill, but for the growing middle class in developing countries. It may not be Ikea who does it there, but what if we could convert shipping containers into housing for the people living in the shantytowns adjoining every large city in the Southern hemisphere?


I might be wrong, but I think IKEA has built some of these houses in Sweden already as an experiment...


Maybe it'd be good to elaborate a bit on why houses such as this are a good thing. Because I don't understand why. Maybe it is just me and my personal tastes, but I find this kind of modernism, this stark brutalism rather bleak, and pretty devastating. I think there is an argument against design that is so algorithmic and mathematical as this is. But maybe someone could explain how this would be a good thing for cities. I don't quite get it.


Brian--this is what ALL newly built houses look like in Sweden :-). The old functional style is coming back in a new version. These wouldn't be extreme here at all, rather the opposite.


Sweden is building new houses like never before (housing has become extremely expensive here as well and often it's better to build a new house than to buy an old one). But coming back to the style of those houses.

This first link is to one of the most expensive housing areas is Stockholm right now:


And those two are examples of what more or less all newly build houses look like here since five years back.



...so I don't think the IKEA houses would be regarded as "algorithmic and mathematical" here :-)...

And there are other versions of the IKEA houses as well (still in either black or white - like all other houses newly built houses here:-):


These houses are being built in four different places in Sweden right now...But given your comments above - I wonder if those would be possible to export or if this housing "style" is "too Swedish"?


I would hope that this style wouldn't work elsewhere, but maybe that is just me. Wasn't modernism always essentially populist? In the sense that what mattered was not aesthetic but function - something that was available and accessible to the many. I like Sweden's emphasis on egalitarianism in terms of its welfare state, but the architectural manifestation is to me deadening. These designs leave little space for imperfections and imprecisions, and possibly also imagination. Which I guess is also sometimes arguments made against the state as well. There were reasons why Jacobs didn't like the sort of brutalist designs of Le Corbusier and other modernists, and I agree with those reasons.


I just remembered Le Corbusier's famous dictum that buildings are "machines for living in". Thus his brutal design principles. This phraseology also nicely summarizes his (and other modernists') social aims - the imposition of taylorist norms of regimentation onto the spatial urban landscape. To me these are sentiments and norms to be fought against and resisted fiercely, for reasons that are all too obvious.

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