Ikea’s Flat Pack Refugee Shelter Won Best Design 2016

There’s more to Ikea than Billy Bookcases, their flat pack refugee shelter was just crowned the Beazley Design of the Year 2016…

They said it couldn’t be done, but Ikea are solving a real-world crisis, providing mobile, safe and comfortable shelter for refugees across the globe – 30,000 people and counting. The Better Shelter lasts six times longer than your typical emergency tent, offering dignity and sanctuary for up to five people where there appears to be none.

That’s why, on Thursday 26th January 2017, Ikea’s innovation won the coveted Beazley prize – pipping 67 nominees from 6 categories to the post.

Ingenious design

Time is of the essence in an emergency, so the Better Shelter comes flat packed in two cardboard boxes. Putting it together is simple, four people can build the refugee shelter in under four hours – all of the tools (a hammer) and a classic Ikea instruction manual are provided.

It’s essentially a sturdy steel frame, covered with insulation panels and a solar panel roof which provides four hours of electric light or mobile phone charging via a USB port. Crucially, the Better Shelter, with its locked door and stab proof walls, is anchored to the ground.

Not only can you replace damaged parts without dismantling or replacing the entire shelter, but the clever design is incredibly flexible. You can add or remove entire sections, depending on the situation, plus the window and doors can fit in any number of configurations.

Giving back

Over three years, the Ikea Foundation donated 400,000 mattresses, quilts and blankets to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – making the Better Shelters even, well, better.

However, the not-for-profit Ikea Foundation can’t take full credit, because they collaborated with the UNHCR to improve the lives of people displaced by armed conflicts and natural disasters. Five years later, their Better Shelter is the more than worthy winner of the Beazley Design of the Year 2016 prize – as you’ll surely agree.

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Cover image copyright BetterShelter.org