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Ikea’s Space10 lab reimagines city life as a high-design commune

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A lush vision for dense urban living

Rendering of timber building Image: Space10 and Effekt Architects

Cities are growing, and they’re growing fast. To accommodate the boom in population, metropolises are starting to think about how they can make density not just a viable option, but a livable option.

Space10, Ikea’s research and design lab, is well-trained in the art of speculative problem solving, and its most recent idea gets to the heart of the density-versus-livability tradeoff. With the Urban Village Project, Space10 and Copenhagen firm Effekt Architects reimagine city life with a series of urbanization buzzwords: modular, sustainable, and communal.

The big-picture proposal envisions the future of cities as modular housing blocks that can be flat-packed and assembled on a tight timeline and budget. Renderings show boxy timber buildings with large glass windows and plenty of greenery baked into the design.

Rendering of apartment and terrace Image: Space10 and Effekt Architects
Rendering of people in a greenery filled dining room Image: Space10 and Effekt Architects

When the buildings need to respond to shifting population needs, they can be disassembled and redesigned instead of demolished and thrown away. “The system is designed for disassembly, unlocking a truly circular material loop where building components and materials can be reused and replaced rather than wasted,” says Sinus Lynge, a partner at Effekt.

Rendering of cityscape Image: Space10 and Effekt Architects

Conceptually, the modular buildings combine into neighborhoods where residents pool resources to make life more affordable. The apartments are designed to be cross-generational and communal, with shared amenities like daycare, dining, and transportation. It’s a downright utopian view of how our cities could function in the future—just make sure you like who you’re living with.