Last year, Ikea began shipping a custom version of their famous flat-pack furniture to refugee camps in Iraq and Ethiopia, where it was badly needed. The portable Ikea refugee shelters come in cardboard boxes, and are made of Rhulite, a lightweight polymer. The shelters, a collaboration with the U.N.'s refugee agency (UNHCR), were designed to be sturdier and provide more insulation than the canvas and plastic tents that have been the refugee housing standard for decades. Powered by photovoltaic panels, the innovative huts were recently singled out by British design critic Alice Rawsthorn as being "one of the most important design developments of the past decade."
"The Refugee Housing Unit is an unusually sensitive and intelligent response that not only promises to provide sorely needed shelter for people in desperate circumstances, but also a robust and congenial place for them to live, possibly for several years, before moving on to permanent homes," Rawsthorn said, in her commendation at the Swedish Design Awards. The 57-square-foot shelters can be assembled in around four hours, or so the Ikea Foundation claims. Photos, below:
· Ikea's refugee housing: "an unusually sensitive response" [Dezeen]
· Ikea Applies Low-Cost, Flat-Pack Expertise to Refugee Housing [Curbed National]
· All Ikea Watch posts [Curbed National]