Since IKEA was the innovator of mass-customized, flat-packed furniture it comes as no surprise to learn that the Swedish furniture behemoth is going to start selling prefab houses in the UK next year. IKEA teamed up with Swedish construction firm Skanska to create the Boklok brand in 1998. Boklok translates as “Live Smart” in Swedish, and reduces the cost of housing manufacture by creating economies of scale in materials and production. Since its launch, over 2000 one and two-bedroom Boklok homes have been sold throughout Scandinavia. Banking on IKEA’s popularity in England (with a stampede of 6,000 customers recently at a north London IKEA store), Boklok is looking to conquer the low-end prefab market in the UK.
Since affordable housing is a major concern in population-dense Britain, this development may be the answer for hundreds of thousands of people who are currently unable to afford to buy a home. Still, whether the Scandinavian country aesthetic will resonate with Brits’ taste remains to be seen. As Treehugger writer Alastair Fuad-Luke says: “A glance to the post-World War II ?Cornish Unit? prefab concrete homes, and others of the same ilk, designed over fifty years ago to meet similar urgent housing needs, still sit awkwardly in the landscape. Whatever happened to ?local is beautiful??”
Boklok houses will be available at 13 IKEA outlets in the UK, starting in 2006.
When Boklok will hit the U.S. market remains to be seen. I can’t find any mention of it at the moment.