Vienna's New IKEA Store Is a Giant Set of Shelves

The urban store addresses a new megatrend: customers without cars.

facade of Ikea store Vienna that looks like white shelves

Querkraft Architekten

When IKEA Austria announced its plans for a new location in Westbahnhof, Vienna back in 2020, the Swedish retailer said it was built to address a new megatrend: customers without cars. We were wowed by the proposal then and now that it is built, there is more to be wowed about.

Let's start with the dramatic façade. The architects, Vienna-based Querkraft Architekten, described the store as "a set of shelves." The firm states: "This 4.5 meter deep [15 feet] zone runs around the building like a series of shelves that offer shade. It allows spaces to expand, offers room for terraces and planting and for servant elements like lifts, escape stairs, toilets and building services."

looking up at roof of the Ikea store in Vienna

Hertha Hernaus / Querkraft Architekten

The building isn't just a store: The top two floors are a Jo&Joe hostel and the public roof deck is open 24 hours a day. The architects shared the instructions from the client:

"'We want to be a good neighbour.' Querkraft’s response to this objective is shown by a building that also represents an added value for its surroundings. The roof terrace that is open to the public, the wealth of greenery on all facade areas, a café and an outdoor space with a friendly design—these are all amenities that contribute towards being a 'good neighbour.'"

Querkraft Architekten

The roof terrace is shaded by 500 square meters (1,640 square feet) of solar panels with an output of 88 kilowatts peak (kWp), which is stored in a 1-megawatt-hour battery that will "replace non-sustainable emergency generators" and "supply the surrounding area with electricity in an emergency."

There are 160 trees on the facade and the roof, and the architects claim these will have "a perceptible impact on the microclimate."

In the “Urban Heat Island-Strategy Plan“ of the City of Vienna planting is one of the most important measures. The climbing plants and trees of the IKEA furniture store have a cooling and humidifying effect – like a kind of natural air conditioning system. The air temperature will be improved at the pedestrian level, too. Computer simulations indicate a relevant temperature decrease of 1.5°C.


Both the battery claim of serving the surrounding area and the temperature decrease sound awfully optimistic to me, but there is too much to love here to argue the points. And if trees aren't enough nature, they have birds, bees, and bugs. According to IKEA's sustainability page:

"Biodiversity is a major concern for IKEA. On all levels of the IKEA Westbahnhof there are open spaces with green plants, green facade elements, bird's nests, beehives and areas flooded with light. 30 nesting places are provided in the open areas, so that kestrels and swifts feel comfortable with us. With innovative beehives on our open spaces, we give the city bees a new home with everything they need to live. In order to support our biodiversity even better, we have built insect hotels with schools in the area, which are then set up at the house. With all our efforts we want to create a new experience, not only for our customers, but also for our very small guests."
restaurant in store

Hertha Hernaus / Querkraft Architekten

There is no parking for cars at the store, but there is emissions-free delivery by electric truck or e-cargo bikes, driven by employees of Wien Work, a program to help long-term unemployed people to re-enter the labor market. According to IKEA Austria's sustainability report, building this store eliminated 350,000 car trips per year. The report also states the retailer is not just building greener structures, but also greener products, designed for long life and even a second life. "At IKEA Austria, customers receive a credit card for returning furniture in good condition," states the report. "Subsequently, the second-hand products are offered at affordable prices in the circular hubs of the furniture stores."

The architects also note that "to ensure the optimal implementation of this car-free, inner city IKEA an almost entirely female team of architects under Carmen Hottinger as querkraft’s project manager is working in close collaboration with the client."

I feel it important to republish Treehugger contributor Mike Eliason's tweet from the first post, noting that this is a different approach to sustainability than what we get in North America, where one might find a few electric charging points outside of a suburban big box. This is the real thing—the megatrend we need. It's not just converting to electric cars but designing our world so we can live without cars. And frankly, it looks like a lot more fun than pushing a giant cart across a parking lot in the suburbs.

View Article Sources
  1. "IKEA city center vienna westbahnhof." querkraft.

  2. "Nachhaltigkeit bei IKEA Wien Westbahnhof." IKEA.

  3. Häusler, Christina. "The good neighbour: urban, car-free IKEA furniture store and hostel with public roof terrace." querkraft. Press release.

  4. "IKEA Austria presents its first validated sustainability report." IKEA, 24 Feb. 2022.