A refugee shelter has popped up on the streets of London—but it’s not there for housing. The compact white building is an IKEA Better Shelter - an innovative flatpack structure that’s been nominated for the Design Museum’s prestigious Beazley Designs of the Year global competition. This is the first time that IKEA’s emergency shelter has been publicly exhibited in the UK, and it serves as a teaser for the upcoming 2016 Beazley Design of the Year exhibition.
Design Museum installed the 17.5-square-meter IKEA Better Shelter outside the South Kensington Underground station in west London, close to the Design Museum’s new location on Kensington High Street. Nominated in the Beazley Designs of the Year’s Architecture category, the Better Shelter was selected for its socially beneficial design, a characteristic that Design Museum curator Gemma Curtain says is at the core of the Beazley Design Award. IKEA’s temporary shelter was developed in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency. Thousands of Better Shelters have been deployed worldwide, from Botswana to Greece, where they serve as temporary homes, registration centers, medical facilities, and food distribution points.
Each flat-pack structure meets the basic needs of living, such as privacy and security, and is designed to last for at least three years and accommodate five people. The house-like shelters are made with a sturdy galvanized steel frame with semi-hard, recyclable polymer plastic walls and lockable doors. A rooftop solar panel charges an indoor LED lamp, which includes a USB port that can charge a mobile phone. Though the Better Shelter is designed for temporary housing, each unit can be anchored to the ground and withstand harsh elements. Every structure can be easily set up without tools in four hours and can be expanded upon thanks to its modular design.
Better Shelter will be on display outside the London tube until November 23, 2016, after which it will be moved to the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition that runs from November 24, 2016 to February 19, 2017. The Award winners will be announced on January 26, 2017.
Images via Design Museum, by Luke Hayes