Social Justice

Flat-pack IKEA-style refugee shelter is named design of the year

The Better Shelter emergency housing project has won the Beazley Design of the Year Award 2016

A flat-pack shelter designed to house refugees has been crowned design of the year.

Launched in 2013, Better Shelter has won prestigious Beazley Design of the Year Award 2016.

More than 150 Better Shelter units have been installed by UNHCR and implementing partners in the Kara Tepe site in Lesvos where they function as temporary accommodation, offices and medical aid clinics.

The IKEA Foundation-funded portable shelter project – which we championed in The Big Issue in its early days, below – is a game-changer for aiding the refugee crisis and natural disaster relief.

We are aware that it has been developed in response to the humanitarian needs

The modular structures can house a family of up to five people. Better Shelter claims it has delivered 16,000 shelters to crisis zones, spanning from Iraq to Ethiopia, Nepal to Greece.

As we wrote several months ago: Flat packed furniture has changed the way we furnish our homes. And its about to change the lives of thousands of people displaced by conflict and natural disasters.

“While we are pleased that this kind of design is honoured, we are aware that it has been developed in response to the humanitarian needs that have arisen as the result of the refugee crisis,” said Johan Karlsson, interim managing director of Better Shelter.

The 17.5 sq meter shelters are modular in design and comes in two flat-pack boxes, each weighing 80 kg. They are made of recycled material and can be assembled in four hours, providing security, space and comfort.

A Better Shelter design costs $1250 per unit and is currently displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art introduced Better Shelter’s emergency shelter into its permanent collection last year.

The shelters feature solar paneled roofs, which can power internal LED lighting and phone chargers, bringing rays of light to families living through the darkest of times in more ways than one.

It’s a design borne out of tragedy. 21.3 million people comprise the current refugee crisis and the UNHCR estimates that 2.6 million men, women and children have been living in ramshackle refugee camps for five years or more.

Words: Lucas Cumiskey@lucas_cumiskey

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