A worms-eye view places IKEA inside the Great Conservatory. While both are formally very different, they simultaneously achieve highly-controlled artificial environments.
Increasingly, the purpose of physical retail space is to establish an experiential counterpart to the efficiency of the online marketplace. The synthesis speculates that IKEA’s circulation strategy and the conservatory’s dizzying form could be a possible future for retail aiming to create an illusion of boundless wilderness.
Shopping becomes an experience of confusion between reality and fantasy that is highly effective in persuading people to consume.
A study in collaboration with Victoria Gallagher
Royal College of Art
Tutors: Douglas Murphy and Nicholas Lobo Brennan
Type, Program, Synthesis. A model and drawing study exploring the physicality of 'the very large' in comparison to the spatial consequences of the economy. The study cross references Joseph Paxton's Great Conservatory at Chatsworth House (1840) alongside the contemporary neoliberal spatial condition of wholesale retail sheds.
The model of an architectural typology analyses the construction of Paxton's precursor to Crystal Palace, the Great Conservatory. He used the intricate curved greenhouse, as a test bed for new building techniques of prefabricated glass, iron and laminated timber. The construction of the building served to maximise early notions of solar heating with a curved skeletal timber structure and ridge and furrow roof glazing for optimal daylight.
Photograph of 1:25 paper model study of
Joseph Paxton's Great Conservatory
Photograph of 1:25 paper model with mirrors for Mise-en-abyme
Worms eye projected plan
The programmatic research examined commercial spatial devices, particularly focussing on IKEA and the combined use of domesticity and fantasy.
IKEA creates an illusion of boundlessness while keeping people to a predetermined path. Maze-like floor plans beneath a seemingly infinite ceiling grid keep the perimeter of the windowless envelope out of sight. Customers can wander into an iterative collection of domestic scenes giving the impression of perpetual choice.
In most cases IKEA exists in corrugated sheet boxes, detached, surrounded by motorways and far away from the domestic world that is imagined for customers inside. A false domesticity creates a space not only for the exhibitionism of products but satisfies a curiosity between customers staging extracts of their home lives in public.
Synthesis of Conservatory and IKEA
Worms eye projected plan