IKEA Upcycles Furniture Into Homes For Birds, Bees, ​and Bats

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By Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Swedish furniture giant IKEA partners with London artists to build homes for wildlife out of repurposed furniture.

To mark the recent opening of its new store in Greenwich, London, IKEA is giving back to local wildlife. The company's "Wild Homes for Wildlife" project put local artists and designers to work transforming IKEA products into animal apartments for local birds, bats, and insects. These critter comfort pads will be located across Sutcliffe Park in southeast London, and you can actually visit them by downloading a trail map.

Pipi is a bat house created by graphic artist Supermundane from an old IKEA INDUSTRIELL shelving unit. Roughened surfaces inside help bats get a good grip when they roost during the day. 

Pipi is a bat house created by graphic artist Supermundane from an old IKEA INDUSTRIELL shelving unit. Roughened surfaces inside help bats get a good grip when they roost during the day. 

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It's nearly impossible to recognize the source materials that went into these largely colorful creations, and while it's a clever marketing stunt, the upcycling project is in line with IKEA's long-term sustainability strategy, launched in 2012. The store is aiming to achieve a BREEAM "Outstanding" accreditation by incorporating a number of green technologies, including solar panels and rainwater harvesting. 

Honey I’m Home! by Hattie Newman is a Brazilian-style bee village created from an old IKEA BURVIK side table. 

Honey I’m Home! by Hattie Newman is a Brazilian-style bee village created from an old IKEA BURVIK side table. 

London–based artists, architects, and designers—including Hattie Newman, Adam Furman, and Supermundane—used chairs, tables, and kitchen worktops from the reuse and recycle area in the Greenwich store to create livable spaces for bees, birds, bats, and insects.

"IKEA Greenwich is our leading sustainable store and we want to have a positive impact on the local environment," says Helen Aylett, IKEA Greenwich store manager. "By offering a community experience centered on reuse and recycling and supporting local conservation, we want to demonstrate that we’re committed to being a good neighbor for all walks of life in Greenwich and the surrounding area—creepy crawlies included!"

Fladdermösshus is designed by architect Je Ahn, founder of Studio Weave. The bat roosts are constructed from old IKEA KVISTBRO metal tables.

Fladdermösshus is designed by architect Je Ahn, founder of Studio Weave. The bat roosts are constructed from old IKEA KVISTBRO metal tables.

Hattie Newman, an artist and set maker, created a Brazilian-style bee village from an old side table. She found the project to be a really heartwarming one to be part of. "As an artist, I’m passionate about sustainability and reusing materials wherever possible," she says. "I’m excited to see the people of Greenwich engage with the project and hopefully get some inspiration for protecting local wildlife in their own backyard."

Månstråle House by Beep Studio features nesting pods created from old IKEA STRÅLA lamp stands. The pods are positioned at the right height for common British birds like blue tits and great tits. 

Månstråle House by Beep Studio features nesting pods created from old IKEA STRÅLA lamp stands. The pods are positioned at the right height for common British birds like blue tits and great tits. 

South London's winged creatures will surely enjoy their upgraded digs, but we'd love to see what type of homes these designers could conjure up for some of London's larger wildlife—Paddington Bear perhaps? The Wombles of Wimbledon?

The Bug Bud by Iain Talbot. This bright blue bug hotel is made from old IKEA chairs and leftover cladding from an IKEA store. 

The Bug Bud by Iain Talbot. This bright blue bug hotel is made from old IKEA chairs and leftover cladding from an IKEA store. 

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