The refugee crisis has finally captured the world's attention, but IKEA has been helping people on the ground for years. Due to natural disasters and conflicts like the one currently taking place in Syria, a growing number of people are in need of smart emergency housing solutions. The Better Shelter Housing Unit, developed by a team of Swedish designers, is helping to address the need for affordable, sustainable and easy-to-transport temporary accommodation. It is a modular housing unit that can be easily assembled and, according to the designers, can last much longer than the designs currently on the market. And it relies on solar energy to charge small devices and provide LED lighting.
Over 7.6 million people have been displaced due to the Syrian civil war alone. UNHCR studies have shown that most refugees live in poverty and lack the essential amenities such as drinking water, heating and toilet facilities. In order to meet the growing demands for sustainable solutions that offer optimal living conditions for the displaced, the team behind The Better Shelter Housing Units made sure to create a design that can be produced in high volumes at an affordable price and, thanks to its flat-pack design, would be easy to transport and assemble on site by a team of four people in only in 4-8 hours. It is composed of three individual parts – Frame, Panels and PV System, and uses solar power for LED lighting and charging small devices.
The project was developed in collaboration between the UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation, and the first prototypes were tested and developed together with refugees in Ethiopia and Iraq. Among the most important design features of this modular emergency shelter is the fact that it can be used for a longer period of time compared to currently used emergency shelters. The expected lifespan of a single unit is 3 years and the house can be disassembled and reused when needed. “Better Shelter is a social enterprise. With entrepreneurial energy and market discipline we achieve social change on a large scale in a financially self sustainable way. Every dollar we generate in profit is reinvested within our company or distributed to our philanthropic owner, the Housing for All Foundation.”
Second photo by R. Cox