IKEA's new home - building the brand

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Happy 3rd birthday, Hubhult! An activity-based workplace that facilitates flexibility in the work environment, we’re happy to see IKEA's head office, Hubhult, is a popular choice among employees. To accompany the video tour - available here - we look back and reflect on our architectural translation of the iconic brand.

IKEA is globally known and loved for its democratic approach to design with a brand vision that promises “to create a better everyday life for the many people.” Smart thinking, functionality and user logic are all at the forefront of the IKEA mantra, from boardroom discussions to the packaging of their products, and it is this mindset which has spearheaded the design for IKEA's new meeting centre and head office in Sweden - Hubhult.

The IKEA idea focusses on “combining function, quality, design and value - always with sustainability in mind” – a construct heightened by the Hubhult building, which won BREEAM building of the year in 2017, and is today recognized as Scandinavia’s most sustainable office building. Entirely self-sufficient, Hubhult produces 100% renewable energy, boasting geo-energy, solar panels, and IKEA’s very own windmill park. Alongside sustainability, the collaboration between Dorte Mandrup and IKEA was founded on the intention to create straightforward design free of any unnecessary elements - not dissimilar to IKEAs reputable flat-pack model.

Illustrating the relationship between function, quality and design are the vast staircases and spacious light wells at the heart of the building. Evoking internal ‘breathability’, this space offers views of the building from the ground floor all the way up to its' ceiling. These “views between the floors were created to ensure that the employees have a real sense of contact and interaction”, says Dorte Mandrup. Opening up the internal space to facilitate interaction between people effectively echoes IKEA's mission statement to improve everyday life for the many, be that at work or at home. “The overall spatial concept is to create a feeling of transparency and togetherness”, she elaborates.

With this fluid spatial concept comes “a much more flexible approach to furnishing and layout. Simple design – big impact” explains Dorte. Design simplicity is not only a feature on the inside of the building but is present externally too. The on-brand facade in sinus curved aluminium cladding is recognizable to many, mimicking that of IKEA warehouses dotted around the world. Surrounding the windows, immobile awnings in the same material provide optimal sun protection for the workers inside. Improving workflow, these awnings were strategically designed by studying the suns movement throughout the day. This study also informed the location of the solar panels on the roof of the car park, for prime sun exposure.

Of utmost importance for the success of this project was a synergy between IKEA brand values and the architects understanding of them, as Lars Wingren Hubhult project manager stresses - “Dorte Mandrup does not feel like a hired consultant…but more like a partner who talks, listens and, in a dynamic manner, transforms our shared vision into a fantastic project, Hubhult!”