Looks like IKEA's heart may actually be the only thing bigger than its massive stores. The low-cost company's solar-powered disaster shelters, which have been used in Ethiopia and Iraq, have just received an honorary award from the Swedish Design Awards. The flat-pack shelters are a collaborative labor of love between the IKEA Foundation and the Refugee Housing Unit (RHU) and were designed to offer a durable, comfortable and energy-capable alternative to traditional canvas tents that commonly house refugees during times of crisis.
In 2013, the formidable team sought to design easily deployable shelters that not only provided for the basic needs of those needing emergency housing, but could also provide at least a modicum of privacy, comfort and dignity.
The flat-pack design allows for rapid transport and thanks to the clip-on design, takes under four hours to connect the panels to the steel frame.
What's also brilliant about the IKEA shelters is the solar panel roofing, which allows inhabitants to generate electricity for basic living needs as well as communication.
Additionally, the 188-square-foot shed-like shelters can house up to five people, which is double the amount generally assigned to typical refugee tents in dire situations.
Design critic Alice Rawsthorn highlighted the importance of design in humanitarian issues and referred to the huts as "one of the most important design developments of the past decade."
The roof is also designed to deflect solar radiation by 70 percent, cooling the shelters during the day and insulating warmth within the interior at night.