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Design of the year: IKEA flat pack refugee shelter

30 January 2017

The Better Shelter emergency shelter was the big winner at the Beazley Designs of the Year awards, taking home the Architecture award and the 2017 Grand Prize.

Better Shelter (Credit: IKEA Foundation/Better Shelter)

Better Shelter is designed to help the millions of people worldwide who have fled armed conflicts, persecution or natural disasters. A lot more dignified and safer than a tent, the shelter resembles a house, with semi-hard, non-transparent walls. It has four windows and a high ceiling so occupants can stand inside. The door is lockable from the inside and out to give women and children more peace of mind. 

Designed to house five people, the 17.5m2 shelter takes four people and four hours to assemble depending on experience and location. One whole shelter consists of 68 unique parts and weighs 169kg. 

The shelter features a solar panel installed in the roof which charges an LED light inside. When fully charged, this can be used for four hours during the night. The light output is between 20-100lm and the system can charge a mobile phone through a USB port in the lamp. 

The shelters frame is made from robust steel so it can withstand strong weather. The roof and walls are made from polyolefin panels treated with UV protection to reduce deterioration caused by sunlight. The steel frame is easy to assemble and disassemble, so the shelter can be moved with ease. The expected lifespan of the shelter is approximately three years in moderate climate and the roof and wall panels can be recycled after use. 

The Beazley Design Awards recognise the most original and exciting designs from around the world in six different categories: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Products and Transport.

”We are above all pleased that this prize brings attention to our hard work, and as a result, the refugee situation as a whole. We accept this award with mixed emotions – while we are pleased that this kind of design is honoured, we are aware that it has been developed in response to the humanitarian needs that have arisen as the result of the refugee crisis,” says Johan Karlsson, initator and interim Managing Director of Better Shelter.

Better Shelter is a social enterprise. Every dollar we generate in profit is reinvested within our company or distributed to our philanthropic owner, the Housing for All Foundation.

The Housing for All Foundation was established by the IKEA Foundation.

Better Shelter is a strategic partner of the IKEA Foundation and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

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