IKEA is building its most sustainable store yet – and it’ll be covered with plants and trees

We can only hope they don’t get halfway through assembly, and realise they’re missing the entire third floor.

For years IKEA has filled our living rooms with would-be engineers making frantic calls to DIY-savvy relatives, and now the company is embarking on an architectural adventure of its own.

At the end of Mariahilferstrasse, one of Vienna’s main shopping streets, IKEA is constructing what might be its most ambitious store yet – a cube-shaped eco-build set to be covered with more than 150 trees.


An oasis of green in the midst of the Austrian capital, the store’s exterior will be studded with potted shrubs, a mini-forest of trees will emerge from the roof, while vines and creepers are set to snake across the lower walls. The building is primed for a BREEAM Excellent certification, which requires sustainable materials and a host of other eco-targets to be met.

With direct entry to Westbahnhof train station, the store is intended to be a car-free zone, and will surround itself with bike racks and pedestrianised cobbles rather than tarmac. Though an obvious boost to the store’s eco-credentials, removing the need for parking comes with a clear commercial upside. Around two thirds of Vienna’s inner city residents don’t even own a car.

Me, halfway through building an IKEA table (IKEA/PA)

The new store’s aesthetics are aiming much higher than budget chairs and wardrobes. True to IKEA’s Bauhaus roots, the geometric, minimalist style comes courtesy of Viennese firm querkraft architekten, and the building will host four food outlets, an events space, a publicly accessible roof terrace, and a youth hostel.

The move reflects a growing trend towards ‘lifestyle centres’ and ’boutique malls’ – mixed-use multiplexes in which retail stands shoulder-to-shoulder with services. Just as teens in movies used to hang out ‘at the mall’, so developers hope that future generations might start meeting at their local furniture stores.

It’s easy being green (IKEA/PA)

It’s an ambitious building project to say the least, but there’s no cause for concern. If there’s one thing IKEA is known for, it’s having instruction manuals that are always, absolutely, entirely, 100% crystal-clear.