IKEA Museum

Älmhult, Sweden

This project restores and repurpose the world’s first IKEA store, known as the ‘Old Star’, into a unique IKEA museum experience in the heart of Älmhult, Sweden. WilkinsonEyre worked alongside Ralph Appelbaum Associates (masterplanners for main exhibition), local architect, Uulas Arkitekter (project architects) and the IKEA Museum project team (delivery architects) to reinvigorate and transform the space. The multi practice team was led and coordinated by the creative team for the IKEA Museum project at IKEA.

The aims of WilkinsonEyre’s masterplan were to restore the building to its former glory and to improve its environmental performance. The IKEA Museum project team were keen to explore various technical solutions, staying true to their environmental aims of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. Due to the poor thermal performance of the structure the original roof was replaced and enhanced with the addition of a roof lantern to provide natural light to the otherwise windowless top floor; single glazing was replaced with triple glazing; and a layer of rendered insulation applied to the external façade.

Internally the challenge was to convert this 18m x 84m, 4 storey building in to a flexible museum experience for a projected visitor flow of 3350 visitors per day during peak season. With low floor to ceiling heights, WilkinsonEyre added multi-height spaces to create a light, welcoming entrance lobby with enough space for the expected numbers of visitors to comfortably enter, orient and begin their journey with inspiring and dynamic views into the museum. Working closely with Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) WilkinsonEyre created circulation routes to lead the visitor seamlessly and fluently though the experience.

Due to the limitations of the footprint of the 1958 building, a 500m² museum café is housed in an adjacent 1990’s structure. By introducing a canopy to link the two buildings WilkinsonEyre created a ‘public’ square providing both shelter for al fresco dining during warmer months an exciting visual link between the ‘Old Star’ and the café. The canopy was envisaged to be a lightweight structure allowing for maximum light penetration whilst providing protection from the extremes of both sun and rain. The public square beneath was designed by Coe Landscape to be hard landscaped with water features that provide a changing environment in connection with the seasons.