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Ikea’s Better Shelter wins best design of 2016 award

The prize was awarded by the Design Museum of London

A shot of two rows of simple structures with clotheslines going across them and a child in the foreground and two adults in the middle ground.
The 188-square-foot dwelling can be assembled in four hours.
Photos courtesy of the Design Museum

The Design Museum of London has awarded the Beazley Design of the Year award to “Better Shelter,” the Ikea-designed flat-packed refugee shelter. According to a press release, 30,000 of the shelters are already in use around the world, demonstrating that scalable design can make global, real-world impact.

Developed in 2013 by Johan Karlsson, Dennis Kanter, Christian Gustafsson, John van Leer, Tim de Haas, Nicolò Barlera, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, Better Shelter is a lightweight and modular 188-square-foot dwelling that provides temporary housing, in addition to privacy and security, to displaced people.

The structure features a locking front door and a solar-powered wall that can generate enough energy to power the built-in light or a mobile phone. Assembled in four hours with the accompanying toolkit, it can also be easily dismantled, moved, and reassembled on another site, making it a highly adaptable product.

Selected as the winner in the architecture category, Better Shelter also beat out winners from five other categories including digital, fashion, graphics, product, and transport to win the top award.