"Better Shelter," the next-generation refugee dwelling from the Ikea Foundation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a group of Swedish designers, has come a long way. Since its inception in 2013, prototypes of the portable flatpack structure have been tested by 40 refugee families in Iraq and Ethiopia. Last year, it won an honor at the Swedish Design Awards and was called "one of the most important design developments of the past decade." And as of yesterday, after it made its debut at a humanitarian aid conference in Dubai, the "Better Shelter" is officially available for purchase for the first time. The UNCHR has already ordered 10,000 of them, which means the shed-like dwellings will go into production right away, with a goal of housing families in need as early as this summer.
Each 188-square-foot structure accommodates five people and can be assembled by four people in approximately four to eight hours without additional equipment. With its lightweight polymer panels and thermal insulation, Better Shelter is supposed to be safer and more durable than the canvas or plastic tents traditionally used by refugees. The shelter also comes with a solar panel, which can illuminate the interior lamp. In an email, a rep from BetterShelter.org (the social enterprise that will be managing the product's development and production) writes that each Better Shelter currently costs $1,150 including the PV/lamp system, but that price is expected to drop below $1,000 in the next two years as order volumes increase.
· Ikea's flat-pack refugee shelters
go into production [Dezeen]
· Ikea Refugee Shelter Deemed One of Decade's Best Designs [Curbed National]
· Ikea Applies Low-Cost, Flat-Pack Expertise to Refugee Housing [Curbed National]