Former Ikea store could become UK arts center

A former Ikea store in the UK could undergo a major design revamp in order to become home to some of the country’s “greatest works of art.”

Following the closure of the building by Swedish furniture maker in March last year, local politicians in Coventry, central England, are now considering purchasing the seven story building with the hope of converting the structure into a new cultural facility.

The new space could feature a variety of collections, according to a statement from Coventry City Council published Monday. The project would make for a “lasting physical, economic and cultural legacy,” added the council.

Coventry is the UK City of Culture 2021, a designation given to a city for a period of one year to celebrate local culture through events, music, dance, theater and performances.

The aim is to attract “some of the country’s greatest works of art and provide greater public access to Coventry’s own cultural and heritage collections.”

The Ikea store in Coventry.

The Ikea store in Coventry. Credit: Jacob King/PA Images/Getty Images

A preview of the proposed design for the new center.

A preview of the proposed design for the new center. Credit: Coventry City Council

The council is partnering with Arts Council England, which owns around 8,000 artworks by modern and contemporary British artists. The body loans the works out in order to reach the broadest possible audience, according to Coventry council documents.

Discussions over plans for the former Ikea store have been going on for months, according to the council. Councilors will vote on the plans on February 23.

The council said the purchase and conversion of the building was a “multi-million pound project.” A spokesman for the local authority told CNN that negotiations are ongoing pending approval from the council and did not provide a more specific figure for the cost of the project.

“This exciting and amazing proposal really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something Coventry people can be rightly proud of as well as a national and international centre of excellence that will be a lasting legacy from our year as UK City of Culture,” said councilor David Welsh, the council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, in a statement.

Jim O’Boyle, a councilor for the local authority, said many people were “disappointed” when the Ikea store closed, adding that the council was aiming to bring the “landmark building back into use as something special.”

The Ikea store was built in 2007. Built over seven floors due to a lack of space, the unusual design pushed up operating costs and compromised the shopping experience, Ikea said in a statement in last year.