IKEA Flat Pack Houses
February 18, 2008, 10:30 am
Filed under: architecture


So I was browsing my weekly Residential Tuesday Digest and saw an article about IKEA Flat Pack houses that are currently in first phase construction in Britain. I must have missed the memo on the flat packs, so I did a Google search and turned up various images…to which I had some pretty strong reactions. I gather these are different versions in different locations (as they’ve been tested in Denmark and other countries already).


This inspired envy. Crisp modern townhomes with good street presence and a building envelope that gets light deep into the interior spaces. Check it! Way to go IKEA!


And then this. Bummer. Looks just like all the boring 1980’s condos down the street with bad natural light and low, icky popcorn ceilings. I’ll give IKEA the benefit of the doubt about the ceilings, but the “architecture” is practically non-architecture. I have a bad visceral reaction to flat facades punctuated with boring windows. Upon closer examination, it is almost exactly the same as the first image in profile, yet what a difference the extrusion of the entry made. And no, no, no to vertical blinds.

Then I saw this. And wanted to pout mightily. As far as I know, working in the affordable housing sector as I do, we don’t have any problems in the supply chain getting this kind of thoughtless building to the masses for cheap. Why does IKEA need to get in on it too? I’m missing the innovation that is usually, with much fanfare, attached to the “cheap.” Where is it?

I did what little digging my monolingualness would let me do on the BoKlok website. I saw references to the first and second images (different elevations of the same complex, apparently – front yard and back yard), but didn’t see a reference to the last image. Some consolation is in the fact that most of the houses I did see on the official website were more modern than not. But but even among those there were a lot of boring elevations. I want better, IKEA!

Thoughts? Do you know more about these houses?

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4 Comments so far
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Hey! I actually know someone who lives in a BoKlok :) and while they’re not the epitome of aesthetic delight, they’re functionally quite comfortable. Great on thermal comfort, awesome acoustic privacy. The windows do a 360 degree turn, so its easy to scrape snow off the outside when you want a little more light. The materials are simple and easy to maintain, and the fact that they don’t have an awful lot of ‘character’ is a plus if you look at it is ‘easy to customize/personalize’ — of course, it could be better, but this is not half bad.
I guess the reason these work in terms of light/ventilation is also because the houses themselves are quite small in terms of area. not more than 500 sft in most cases…so light only needs to penetrate in that far. In Scandinavia, the sun doesn’t get up very high in the sky in any case, which aids the whole, getting the sun to the back of the room bit. Summers are like winters in Tucson, so shading issues don’t quite exist.

The other thing that makes these quite bearable in sweden is the fact that all habitation is regularly punctuated by dense woods…giving even apartment complexes that are an agglomeration a few of the BoKloks a very ‘mountain cabin’ type feel.

Comment by eyesee

forgot to say …nice blog! :)

Comment by eyesee

Hey! I’m the gal inquiring about your Etsy oil+vinegar set. Hope you don’t mind me visiting your blog. You have an awesome site here. I will be back to read more and more and more. I just started an interior design class and I am learning as much about architecture and space planning as they can squeeze into 8 weeks (i.e. nothing), but I’m suddenly all excited about the subject…luckily I found your blog! I like your perspective and values! Nice to meet you, Terri

Comment by Terri

Thanks for the perspective, Indu!

Terri: Of course I don’t mind! Every blogger loves readers. :) I’ll get back to you on the shipping as soon as I can.

Comment by architheque

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