A variable colour configuration
A world in colour? IKEA expresses its globalist philosophy through architecture. By focusing on the symbolism of colour, the world’s largest home furniture retailer uses interethnic marketing strategies to convey the message that it promotes lifestyles based on a blend of different living cultures. Architecture as a way of communicating values was one of the key design objectives of architect Carl-Ake Bergstrom. A former police station, the office complex was renovated in 2008 and thanks to its particular colour configuration is now a unique feature in the urban landscape of Helsingborg. The decision to use Time porcelain tiles from ImolaCeramiche was dictated by the need to create curtain walls with easy-to-clean surfaces whose special texture also makes them less sensitive to urban pollution, particularly severe due to the presence of the port and the large numbers of ferries, as well as the high density of road traffic in the area. An additional factor was the outstanding aesthetic quality of porcelain tile, which is reflective and sensitive to natural light. The Swedish architect, who has used porcelain tile for around twenty years, aimed to create a building with a changeable colour in the unique Scandinavian climatic and geographical context. As a result, the new IKEA office building interacts with the varying light conditions in the different seasons of the year. In conditions of normal sunlight, the surfaces have almost neutral tones, whereas on rainy days they exhibit intense bluish hues. In January and February, when the sun’s rays are particularly low over the sea, the building assumes a wonderfully intense pink colour. This attention to the natural environment during the design stage demonstrates how, even when using non-local materials, it is possible to preserve the traditions of a population with a predilection for colourful architecture that introduces a touch of warmth to snow-covered urban landscapes and translucent, icy skies. A further factor that gave colour a symbolic expressive role was the single-volume configuration of the building, as well as the orthogonal grid of openings in the facade. In this respect, the randomly positioned coloured glass sheets create vibrating arrhythmias like a serial music score, a kind of dodecaphonic diagram capable of fostering a hyper-textural interpretation of the facades, a metaphorical text that invites different cultures to live peacefully side by side as heterogeneous but complementary parts of a unified whole.