LATEST NEWS

IKEA Wins Design Award For Its Innovative Refugee Shelter

Flat packed and assembled in a few hours with no tools, IKEA’s “Better Shelter” places people above profit.

By Jeff Vasishta January 31, 2017
All Images Via BetterShelter.org

If you thought all IKEA was good for was Swedish meatballs and flatpack bookshelves think again. The Swedish company’s temporary shelter designed for refugees has been named the 2016 Beazley Design of the Year, beating the artwork for “Blackstar”, the final album from David Bowie and a robotic surgeon. IKEA Foundation’s Better Shelter was announced as the winner at an awards ceremony that took place at the Design Museum’s new home in West London on January 26th, design site  dezeen.com reported.

Related: Space Age Campus Designs For The Tech Big-Wigs Are Transforming The Concept Of Office Space

The website is the design partner for the awards which has a mission of celebrating design that  “promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year”.

Unlike other temporary accommodation used to house refugees, which last around 6 months (refugees stay in shelters up to 12 years) according to IKEA, their design, under the same elements of wind, sun and rain, lasts three years. Here’s what makes it so special:

It’s a shed-like structure made of lightweight polymer panels, laminated with thermal insulation, which clips onto a steel frame. If you’re a dab hand at assembling IKEA’s products, you should be able to manage putting one together in four hours and like their bed frames and bookcases come flat packed with panels, pipes connectors and wires. However, unlike their store bought products there is a textile sheet with aluminum woven into the material  laying over the roof for heat control in the same way that flat roofs are painted with silver paint. There’s also a laminated solar panel on a film plastic film power built in lights and a USB outlet.

At around 188 square feet, the Better Shelter is double the size of traditional refugee tents, accommodating up to 5 people, with its upright walls meaning that it could be upgraded and reinforced with earth walls or a metal roof. One the best things about the accommodation is its price, around $1100 each if mass produced.

With the refugee crisis showing no signs of abating, Refugee Housing Unit has sent thousands of flat-pack shelters to crisis points around the world in time for freezing winter weather. The distinctive white structures have dramatically improved the living conditions of refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos according to IKEA’s online catalog.

Professor of Design at Kingston University, Daniel Charny, who nominated the project, hailed the flat-pack object in The Independent as a “ground-breaking example for putting values and benefit above profit”.

0

“Great design responds to needs, and there is no doubt that the refugee crisis is one of the biggest of our era,” he said. “This social enterprise uses flat-pack technology to create more robust and appealing shelters for refugees, with a commitment to continuous improvement as the shelters are used across the world.

“While it will not solve the crisis, it goes a long way to accelerate innovation, challenge unacceptable norms and communicate respect.”

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

  • AGORAFY
    Stefano Boeri, the architect mastermind behind the famous plant-covered skyscrapers, is now designing Forest Cities in Liuzhou, China. #ForestCity #China https://goo.gl/PsTUwv
  • AGORAFY
    Auction is the second scheduled in a month for a One57 unit and it could set a NYC foreclosure record. #BillionairesRow #Foreclosures https://goo.gl/NZ3zqD
  • AGORAFY
    Once a couch-surfing website, Airbnb moves on to luxury properties, further disrupting hospitality industry. #Airbnb #Luxury https://goo.gl/7TpLk6
Four Countries To Retire In With $200K In Savings—And How Much Real Estate Costs There
Ever dreamed of retiring abroad? You know, affordable healthcare, better climate, more positive news—becoming an expat seems like an enticing option, especially one you no…
While Other Real Estate Platforms Start Charging Agents $3-Per-Day Exposure Fee, Agorafy Remains Accessible To All
Real Estate searching platform are always finding news ways to diversify their revenues models. Case in point—on Tuesday July 18, Streeteasy, one of New York…
Is Real Estate Crowdfunding The Fix That Urban Housing In America Really Needs?
Saving money for a down payment? One can only hope. Most millennial in their twenties or thirties are mortified that they might never be able…
Brooklyn And Queens’ Real Estate Sub-Markets Continue Their Ascent To The New Heights
So, the sales prices in Brooklyn and Queens hit record highs. Again. Just like they did in December 2016 and at the end of this…
The Economy Of Car Services And Delivery Apps Might Be Making NYC Less Eco-Friendly
Living in an eco-friendly neighborhood is a good thing. And, as it always the case with the good things, it also costs more. High rents…
Building Communities: What The U.S. Developers Should Learn From Soho China
As our world emerges into the new period of globalization and technology, some of the most important by-products of this process are buildings that have…
Five Reasons Why All Entrepreneurs Must Keep Their Eyes On China
It is hard to overestimate the importance of Chinese influence on the modern global economy. Carving out a place in Chinese market and winning over…
Airbnb Up Their Game With A New Luxury Tier Featuring Mansions And Villas
Airbnb is about to seriously up their game. First, the company started testing a new service called Select in an attempt to push accommodation listings…