Climate protection via furniture store
In 2021, IKEA will open its most innovative furniture store to date in Vienna. Designed by querkraft architects, the city store will bring cooling greenery to the Westbahnhof neighbourhood. For climate protection, against climate change – and GREENPASS Platinum-certified.
The topping-out ceremony, which should have taken place at the end of the year, fell victim to the pandemic and was cancelled without being celebrated. But the completion date of the building designed by Viennese architectural firm querkraft is still expected to be met: the new IKEA city store next to the Vienna Westbahnhof train station is scheduled to open in autumn 2021. And the new building is indeed remarkable, as it will become the most innovative of all the home furnishing retailer’s worldwide stores. A furniture store that benefits the climate, conceived with a focus on the fight against climate change.
Car-free furniture shopping
Shopaholics beware: the new city store will be “car free”. Spontaneous shopping trips along the lines of “…that will fit in the boot as well” are a non-starter. The design makes no allowance for customer parking at all. On the other hand, its location by the Westbahnhof train station makes it convenient to reach by public transport. So how do you get your new sofa or cupboard back home if you’ve travelled to the new IKEA by underground or bike? A presentation video is already promising a user-friendly delivery service. And a furniture store that’s also a pleasant meeting place.
The aforementioned absence of cars isn’t the only thing the complex is doing to protect the climate and fight climate change, though. The pioneering furniture store has a lot more up its sleeve: even before completion, it was awarded the GREENPASS Platinum certificate. This celebrates its outstanding performance in the areas of climate, water, energy, air, biodiversity and costs. The certificate is a kind of “world premiere” that makes the new building an even more unique project – for the benefit of the neighbours and the city as a whole.
160 “cool” trees
With 160 trees, the city store should make the area around the Westbahnhof station up to 1.5 degrees Celsius cooler on hot days. And it creates additional greenery for the neighbourhood too. This is an important quality, as was clear from the feedback to a question posed at the start of the architecture competition: What would people around the store location want?
A multipurpose city park
“The answer was clear: an inner city park!” reports Jakob Dunkl of querkraft architects. So, the team of architects set about developing the visionary project of a vertical park that houses a furniture store and also a hostel. All in the reassuring knowledge that their client IKEA cares deeply about the topics of sustainability, biodiversity, climate protection and neighbourhood.
The new “green” home furnishings paradise, which borders directly onto Vienna’s Westbahnhof station, is a furniture store that protects the climate. The seven-storey building is being constructed on a roughly 4,000 square-metre plot in the heart of a densely built-up neighbourhood with Gründerzeit architecture. Although it will house a hostel in addition to the city store, not only IKEA fans and hostel guests will be able to enjoy the benefits of the new building. With its greened facade and publicly accessible roof terrace, the building will be another inviting attraction for Vienna as a whole. And one that does battle against the urban heat island phenomenon specifically and climate change in general.
City centre instead of “out of town”
“We’ve come a long way from ‘blue boxes’ on the green lawn to a city centre furniture store that is second to none. We dare to do this experiment because our lives, customer behaviour and also mobility habits are changing rapidly. Responding to these changes requires new ways,” explains IKEA Austria Business Development Manager, Maimuna Mosser. The many trees and bushes on all the facades give the furniture store a distinctive appearance. They live in oversized plant pots and a sensor-controlled system supplies them with water and nutrients.
It was clear from the beginning that the building and its exterior installations needed to have a positive impact on the micro and urban climate. Even at the architectural competition stage in 2017, GREENPASS pre-certification was used to demonstrate and advocate the effects of the design concepts and efficacy of the greenery.
Climate protection with a stamp of approval
The design concept for the lush greenery of the city store was developed by landscape designers Kräftner Landschaftsarchitektur with the support of the experts at Green4Cities. GREENPASS helped to optimize placement of the vegetation in the draft and detailed design. The goal: maximum effectiveness and thermal comfort for the future occupants and the neighbourhood. Including official confirmation in the form of the first international certification standard for climate resilience.
With a focus on open space, six urban topics were analysed, optimized and evaluated: climate, water, air, biodiversity, energy and costs. The achieved score of 328 points corresponds to an overall performance rate of 91 percent. As a result, the furniture store that wants to help protect the climate received the world’s first GREENPASS Platinum certificate.
This new, comprehensive quality certification was also taken into account for relevant indicators (microclimate and biodiversity) in the BREEAM evaluation system. Encouragingly, the project achieved a rating of “Excellent” here as well.
The new development was also compared with the older buildings. The evaluation frameworks used for GREENPASS certification are standardized reference scenarios. These range from “totally sealed” to “fully greened”, on a scale from “Worst Case” and “Moderate” to “Best Case”. The green design of the furniture store resulted in significantly better values than the older buildings. And it did so in all five key categories: thermal waste airflow, comfort and storage capacity, run-off score and CO2 storage.
The results of the certification are based on simulations using ENVI-met. And they show that the project actually reduces the local air temperature on hot days by up to one-and-a-half degrees Celsius.
Perceptible climate protection
Everyone is talking about climate protection. But it’s not often that individuals are able to gain live experience of the effectiveness of measures to counter climate change and its consequences in day-to-day life. That could now all change with the new city store. At least for visitors who shop there for furniture or visit Vienna’s new green oasis in the height of summer. Because the apparent temperature on the roof terrace, GREENPASS assures us, will feel more than 12 degrees Celsius cooler.
The analysis also shows that the new city store really does make a contribution to climate protection: it illustrates that the vegetation and soil store over six kilograms of CO2 on each hot day. This is three times more than the older buildings. The thermal storage capacity – a measure of how much a district overheats – is improved. As are the required cooling-degree hours and average run-off factor (from 0.9 to 0.79).
Two hectares of “greenhouse gas munchers”
The innovative furniture store will result in an additional 2,700 square metres of greenery and 160 trees. This equates to a total of over two hectares of leaf area that “consumes” greenhouse gases, thus protecting the climate in the process.
The project also received 15 out of 20 bonus points in the qualitatively evaluated bonus categories of biodiversity, resources and social aspects. Promoting biodiversity in particular was an important aspect when developing the furniture store. Special consideration was given to plant selection, vegetation and habitat structures, biodiverse herbaceous layer, bee and bird pastures as well as nesting and breeding sites.
A focus on sustainability
The use of recycled materials in landscape gardening and the installation of smart lighting and irrigation systems are also examined in the resources bonus category.
Bonus points for “social aspects”
The climate-protection focused development by the Westbahnhof train station also contributes to the bonus category “social aspects”. After all, the new city store creates private open spaces and communal areas. And it’s all barrier-free and tailored to the wishes of the neighbours and occupants. Florian Kraus, CEO of the Viennese start-up GREENPASS, hopes that the green IKEA in Vienna will become the archetype that starts a trend. A shining example that will “convince sceptics to take the same approach in transforming urban spaces for greater quality of life and climate resilience”.
The fact that vertical vegetation is of special benefit in cities is accelerating the trend towards more greenery. Although it was a fringe phenomenon for a long time, the number of modern buildings with green facades and roofs is now increasing rapidly. Spectacular projects, such as part two of the Düsseldorf Kö-Bogen, the London Citicape House and “1000 Trees” in Shanghai, are generating keen interest worldwide.
In Austria too, sumptuously greened buildings – like the MA 48 headquarters situated on the Vienna Gürtel – are causing quite a stir. And specialists in green roofs and facades are increasingly offering low-maintenance and reasonably priced systems that make a positive contribution not only to the urban quality of life, but also to climate protection in general.
The new city store in Vienna is a building designed first and foremost with environmental friendliness and people in mind. The furniture store with a hostel aims to make an important contribution towards transforming the urban environment in the fight against climate change. It shows how climate protection and city can be compatible, despite intensive use. And thanks to many synergies for the common good.
Whether fans of Swedish furniture who tend to fill their cars with impulse purchases will love the car-free IKEA remains to be seen. In any case, the desire to make an active contribution to protecting the climate with an innovative concept deserves recognition.
Text: Elisabeth Schneyder
Images: GREENPASS, ZOOM visual projects, Jakel
that might interest you
Stefano Boeri is regarded as a pioneer of biodiverse architecture. The Torre dei Cedri planned for the outskirts of Lausanne will be another of his spectacular towers. This time, the vertical forest will consist of over 80 trees.
A special kind of discovery world is taking shape in Gothenburg, where Swedish vehicle manufacturer Volvo is using timber construction and nature to create its World of Volvo. The components and engineering for Henning Larsen’s design are being provided by Austrian firm Wiehag.
Danish architects 3XN are operating a separate division called GXN that develops green innovations. In this interview, Kim Herforth Nielsen and Kåre Poulsgaard talk about behavioural design, carbon as a market driver, and their radical high-rise project in Sydney.
As Dusseldorf’s Theodor Heuss Bridge needs a complete overhaul, the team at RKW Architektur + put their heads together – and produced a spectacular new design. It is literally packed with potential.
The town of Jessheim is getting an impressive new centre. Designed by Norwegian firm Mad arkitekter, it promises to combine sustainable urban development with attractive indoor and outdoor areas.
The Kajstaden Tall Timber Building in Sweden marks the beginning of a new generation of mass timber blocks. Using this building material saves around 500 tonnes of CO₂, and it also facilitates deconstruction later on.
There’s a rocket preparing to launch in Switzerland. The residential timber high-rise named Rocket in Winterthur’s Lokstadt neighbourhood will reach a height of 100 metres. The tower’s residents will be part of the 2000-watt society.
May we introduce Carl? Using timber for its facade besides the supporting structure, the apartment block is currently under construction in Pforzheim. Architect Peter W. Schmidt explains how this is being done.
Who wouldn’t want to play a part in designing their own neighbourhood? The future residents of the pioneering Floating Gardens project get to do this. The new, sustainable complex in Amsterdam not only has a school, but also sets out to teach others what sustainable living is all about.
Kautokeino skole in northern Norway is a project that seeks to embrace the uniqueness of Sami culture and educational style. The mass wood building is so hygge, you’ll want to check in for a few nights.
Canada’s megaproject Waterfront Toronto includes a new district called Quayside, an all-electric and climate-neutral community. Its highlights are a two-acre urban forest and the residential Timber House by architect David Adjaye.
The city of San Diego in Southern California has plans for a new district, one that will be entirely void of cars. Known as Neighborhood Next, it must be one of the most radical projects in the USA.
The new urban quarter Zwhatt near Zurich is designed to enable climate-neutral living at affordable prices. One of its buildings is a 75-metre-high timber hybrid tower known as Redwood, whose facade generates solar power.
Timber construction can be decidedly high-tech, as illustrated by the head office built for SR Bank in Stavanger, Norway. Bjergsted Financial Park offers workplaces that are fit for the future, and it is among Europe’s largest engineered timber buildings.
HafenCity Hamburg is an urban quarter fit for the future. Its eco cherry on the top is the “Null-Emissionshaus” (Zero Emissions Building), which is completely carbon-neutral – and can be dismantled like a Lego house.
Researchers at Cambridge University are helping to turn London’s spectacular vision of a wooden skyscraper into reality. The Oakwood Timber Tower is to rise 300 metres into the sky, almost level with the tallest building in the city.
What used to be a single-purpose neighbourhood is being transformed into a versatile motor of urban progress: Eindhoven is turning its railway station district in Fellenoord into a buzzing new area where all kinds of innovations are set to flourish.
The eco-friendly residential project Roots will be the new landmark of Hamburg’s HafenCity and the tallest timber high-rise in Germany. Architect Jan Störmer reveals what its future residents will have in common.
The Danish office 3XN is planning to build North America’s tallest timber office building in Toronto. Called T3 Bayside, the complex will offer more than 500,000 sq. ft. of next-generation office space when completed.
Oslo was once built entirely of wood. The project chosen to redesign the area around its railway station heralds the return of this traditional building material to the Scandinavian metropolis. A spectacular office tower with an innovative hub is being developed, named Fjordporten.
Dutch architectural firm Gaaga has designed a residential building in Eindhoven that is distinctly people- and environment-friendly. Surrounded by trees, it is situated in the middle of a park.
An office building is being constructed in Madrid that even does some work itself: generating solar power. More power than it actually needs.
A woodland of man-made and native trees has sprung up in Shanghai, named Solar Trees Marketplace. It even generates its own solar power.
Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Australian artist Geoff Nees teamed up to design the Botanical Pavilion – a wooden pavilion that is constructed like a 3D puzzle – without using any kind of glue or screws.
Japanese architectural firm UENOA has created a wooden office that has no need for bearing walls. Folded origami-style, the ceiling construction gives a whole new lightness to cross-laminated timber.
There is a new building taking shape in New Orleans that fits perfectly with two very pressing issues: the new Ochsner Center for Innovation will be devoted to developing modern healthcare solutions. The project, which has already won numerous awards, is geared wholly towards sustainability.
A good four years ago, OXO Architectes and Sou Fujimoto embarked on an adventure called Mille Arbres – a mega-project with a plant biotope over Paris’s famous Périphérique ring road.
Sustainability is a top priority for the Powerhouse Company. In an interview, partner Stefan Prins explains why this means more than just a careful choice of materials and energy efficiency, and how essential it is to consider all the changes brought about by climate change when building.
EU President Ursula von der Leyen wants to put climate neutrality centre stage. The first official related project is called Sunflower House and is based on the internal workings of sunflowers.
The Life Cycle Tower One was the first timber high-rise in Austria and the prototype for a new type of serial construction. CREE founder Hubert Rhomberg explains the green building concept and why we have to learn to think in lifecycles.
Milan’s iconic but disused Pirellino office building is to be renovated in spectacular style and renamed Pirelli 39. Its special greenery will even adapt its colours to the passing seasons…
Most people looking for a new home with a sustainable design need to have deep pockets. Rotterdam’s Pendrecht district aims to buck this trend courtesy of timber building Valckensteyn, the brainchild of the architects at Powerhouse Company.
In Düsseldorf, The Cradle is gradually taking shape. The timber hybrid office building is being constructed according to circular economy principles, and these will also govern its future use.
The Dutch city of Eindhoven will soon be home to the world’s highest “plyscraper”. The two towers – 100 and 130 metres high and known as the Dutch Mountains – are to set new standards in high-rise timber construction.
Workplace ahoy! Architecture studio Powerhouse Company has designed a concept for a floating office building. Sustainable, energy-neutral and made of wood, it will serve as the headquarters for the Global Center on Adaptation in Rotterdam as of autumn 2020.
A mixed-use project in Sweden’s Gothenburg is being crowned by star architect Dorte Mandrup. The jewel in this crown is its use of timber. The new eco construction is intended to become an icon in sustainable urban architecture.
Following an initial defeat by the authorities, in the second leg Zaha Hadid Architects managed to gain planning permission for the world’s first timber football stadium.
The ancient Romans used to bathe in healing waters here, and aristocrats from all over the world came to socialize during the Belle Époque. The historic baths in France’s thermal spa resort Aix-les-Bains are now on course for new fame: eco-architect Vincent Callebaut is turning them into a green paradise.
Once Europe’s largest freight station, Brussels’ monumental Gare Maritime is now the largest European CLT project. Neutelings Riedijk Architects have transformed the historic structure into a covered district, giving it a sustainable new lease of life using cross-laminated timber.