Furniture company’s prefabricated apartments to be piloted at a scheme in northern England

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea is to enter into competition with housebuilders next week when it launches its first housing designs for the British market.

The company, which already makes housing in Scandinavia, has drawn up a series of designs specific to the UK for its Boklok range. The prefabricated homes, which are aimed at first-time buyers, will be rolled out on Ikea’s first UK site in the north of England. They will be developed in a partnership with Live Smart @ Home, the private sale division of north-eastern housing association Home Group.

Ikea offered a preview of its designs at a Building Centre seminar in London last week. Lars Wild-Nordlund, the firm’s product manager, said the designs for the UK scheme, the exact location of which had not been confirmed as Building went to press, were for apartments.

However, speaking to Building after the event, Mike Kirk, Live Smart’s development director, said Ikea was working on designs for two and three-bedroom houses.

These are being developed by Home’s in-house architects, along with UK practice PCKO Architects and Norwegian firm Filter, which worked on Boklok schemes in Scandinavia.

The Boklok homes will be sold through Ikea’s outlets and made off site at timber-frame firm’s Pace’s factory in Milton Keynes.

Wild-Nordlund said that although Ikea is using volumetric construction for its homes in Scandinavia, the low initial level of production planned in the UK does not justify using this expensive technology.

Wild-Nordlund added that the company aimed to teach Boklok buyers to minimise energy consumption. He said: “This is an affordable product that allows people to live sustainably.”

Over the next four years, Ikea aims to increase the output of Boklok homes in the UK to 1,000 units a year. They will be targeted at people with average household earnings of £12,500-30,000, who are currently priced out of the housing market.

Boklok will be showcased at an exhibition at the Building Centre, commencing next week.