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Ikea Shelter

Better Shelter, a flat-pack temporary emergency refugee shelter project supported by IKEA Foundation, has been awarded ‘Beazley Design of the Year’ by London’s respected Design Museum.
With years of expertise in squeezing complex items of furniture into the smallest self-assembly package possible, Ikea has come up with a robust 17,5m² shelter that fits inside two boxes and can be assembled by four people in just four hours, following the familiar picture-based instructions – substituting the ubiquitous allen key for a hammer, with no extra tools necessary.

Developed by the not-for-profit Ikea Foundation with UNHCR over the past five years, the Better Shelter consists of a sturdy steel frame clad with insulated polypropylene panels, along with a solar panel on the roof that provides four hours of electric light, or mobile phone charging via a USB port. Crucially, it is firmly anchored to the ground and the walls are stab-proof, a potentially life-saving feature given that such shelters are often sited where violence is rife and gender-based.

Despite the dramatic increase in the number of people being displaced around the world, with UNHCR estimating there are now 2.6 million refugees who have lived in camps for over five years, and some for more than a generation, the typical flimsy tent hasn’t changed much. Cold in winter and sweltering in summer, tents still rely on canvas, ropes and poles. They generally last about six months, leaking when it rains, and blowing away in strong winds.


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