Architecture

IKEA breaks ground on its Utopian village within London

IKEA breaks ground on its Utop...
A schematic of the completed Strand East
A schematic of the completed Strand East
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Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
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Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
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Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
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Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
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Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
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Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
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Much of the area to become Strand East was blighted pre-development
The marketing campaign for Strand East is well underway
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The marketing campaign for Strand East is well underway
The marketing campaign for Strand East is well underway
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The marketing campaign for Strand East is well underway
LandProp expects Strand East's iconic tower to be in place by the end of April
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LandProp expects Strand East's iconic tower to be in place by the end of April
A rendering of a completed Dane's Yard from the riverfront
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A rendering of a completed Dane's Yard from the riverfront
A rendering of Dane's Yard seen from the street
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A rendering of Dane's Yard seen from the street
The 40-meter tower will be illuminated at night
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The 40-meter tower will be illuminated at night
LandProp recently broke ground on the tower site
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LandProp recently broke ground on the tower site
An old industrial area will be re-christened into a shopping plaza
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An old industrial area will be re-christened into a shopping plaza
Dane's Yard is already a visible presence in London
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Dane's Yard is already a visible presence in London
Dane's Yard is already a visible presence in London
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Dane's Yard is already a visible presence in London
A kick-off event for Strand East was held last fall
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A kick-off event for Strand East was held last fall
A webcam documents the progress of Dane's Yard
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A webcam documents the progress of Dane's Yard
A schematic of the completed Strand East
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A schematic of the completed Strand East
The marketing campaign for Strand East is well underway
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The marketing campaign for Strand East is well underway
The company is hoping the Strand East tower will become a new landmark in Stratford
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The company is hoping the Strand East tower will become a new landmark in Stratford
The marketing campaign for Strand East is well underway
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The marketing campaign for Strand East is well underway
View gallery - 22 images

When you enter one of IKEA's giant home furnishing stores, it often feels like taking a trip to a distant, uber-modern town where everyone is just a little more hip than where you just came from, and space is used oh-so-efficiently. Now, the iconic Swedish company wants to actually build just such a town in the real world – in London, to be exact.

LandProp Holding, IKEA's real estate development arm, has snapped up 26 acres (10.5 hectares) in a historic and somewhat blighted section of London to create an idyllic urban hamlet dubbed "Strand East." If you're familiar with London-town, you'll find it between Stratford High Street, the Three Mills Wall River and the River Lea waterways.

It's not the first housing project IKEA has undertaken, but this time the company says the goal is to create a development that fits in with the rest of London "...where mews-style townhouses sit comfortably alongside creative commercial space. Where beautiful public courtyards open up to piazzas. And waterways weave their way around hotels, restaurants, parks, water taxi piers and cycle paths."

A rendering of a completed Dane's Yard from the riverfront
A rendering of a completed Dane's Yard from the riverfront

Strand East will include 1,200 new homes, 40 percent of which will have at least three bedrooms and enough space to accommodate families. Parking is underground to keep the Ikean Utopia as vehicle-free as possible, local buses will be re-routed through the neighborhood and water taxis will be resurrected.

The "face" of Strand East will be a former industrial area re-christened "Dane's Yard" – a landscaped plaza with restaurants, bars, galleries and more, near the entrance to the development. The centerpiece of the yard will be a 40-meter (131-ft) -high illuminated tower that LandProp hopes will become a new iconic landmark in Stratford.

The 40-meter tower will be illuminated at night
The 40-meter tower will be illuminated at night

The "Northeast Quarter," tucked just behind Dane's Yard, is envisioned as a sort of business incubator of sorts that will "fuse its industrial heritage with clean and modern design to create an intelligently restored, contemporary space for businesses to thrive."

All in all, Strand East will house 50,000 square meters (620,000 sq ft) of space for businesses, including local shops, cafes, restaurants and other community facilities, together with a 350-bedroom hotel. A quarter of the development will be open space, including a riverside park.

LandProp says the tower will be in place by the end of the month, with Dane's Yard planned to open in July. No word yet on when the other business and residential sections of Strand East will be open.

A webcam documents the progress of Dane's Yard
A webcam documents the progress of Dane's Yard

Finally, the company says no, there will not be an IKEA store opening in the neighborhood – Strand East residents will have to make the trek to either the Wembley or Tottenham stores to finish furnishing their new digs.

Source: Strand East via Globe and Mail.

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