IKEA’s groundbreaking flat-pack refugee shelter may have won acclaim and industry awards, but project’s deployment has now been temporarily delayed due to safety concerns. Better Shelter, the social enterprise that produces the shelter, told Dezeen that the existing design has accessibility issues and potential fire risks that need to be addressed. The new model will hopefully be completed and ready to deliver to the people who need it later this year.
The improvements will include better ventilation and lighting, as well as a stronger frame and wall panels. Not only will these components be lighter and tougher, but a new process will also reduce production costs. The shelter’s lamp and solar panel will be updated, and additional ventilation inlets will be installed. Hopefully, the redesign will also address the raised sill and narrow doorway that make the shelters inaccessible to wheelchair users as well.
Concerns have also been raised that the shelter could constitute a fire hazard to residents. Though the Swiss city of Zurich purchased 62 of the shelters, in the end, they ended up not being used when inspections showed they did not meet national fire protection requirements.
Better Shelter is addressing these worries by issuing new guidelines on how to improve the safety distance between units so that fires can’t easily spread through potential camps. Though deployment of new shelters has been put on hold, existing homes aren’t being pulled off the ground, so refugees won’t suddenly find themselves homeless. Instead, they’re being redeployed with an eye toward greater fire safety. Hopefully, the new and improved version will be available to replace those existing units soon.
Images via Better Shelter