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.
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