BoKlok means “live smart” and BoKlok is what you get when you combine the Swedish furniture company IKEA and Skanska a Swedish construction company.

I am definitely an advocate of affordable well-designed homes, but I am not fond of the aesthetic. Well, that’s not exactly true, I like it, but home after home with nearly identical exteriors send chills in the Stepford Wives kind of way.

As I was looking for more information, I found this article on the new village scheduled in the UK. The article is pretty positive but this quote articulated one of my concerns, “It may offer domestic solutions, but also suggests a depressingly mechanistic view of humanity, hinting at a monotonous one-size-fits-all suburban future. At what point does responding to society’s needs become a form of social engineering?”

The Boklok answer to this concern is to not flood market and to constantly improve the design. I am really in no position to be critiquing the Swedish sense of design and I admire the efficiency and precision but it seems like this sort of assembly line style of architecture (sustainable as it may be) can’t really take into account the orientation of the site, the position of the home in relation to other homes, the placement of windows and doors. That’s really the objection for all pre-fab options, isn’t it?

I’m not anti-pre-fab. So what is my issue with this? It is more of an emotional objection, possibly an irrational fear. There is something I have been trying to articulate since I came back from vacation and this commodity seems to be striking that same chord. (If you are still reading, bare with me I almost there.)

The allure of traveling for me is adventure: the idea that I can be taken out of the familiar into the unfamiliar and hopefully the surreal. I like different places because I value different perspectives. I like to see the basics through another culture’s eyes. Cabbage is cabbage no matter where you go but coleslaw and kimchi offer very different experiences. Shelter is shelter but how it fits with the particular landscape of a place and how it expresses a particular culture’s identity is what is so fascinating. The ability to mass produce and distribute these buildings not only throughout Scandinavia and western Europe but anywhere and everywhere, makes me sad.

It’s funny. Someone else brought this whole Ikeatown business to my attention and suggested that it would make an interesting post. I am wondering now if that person knew it was going to send me into and existential crisis.