Monday 30 March 2015

Ikea's flat-pack refugee shelters

Ikea is producing 10,000 of its flat-pack temporary shelters designed for refugees made homeless by conflict and natural disasters.

The Ikea Foundation will supply the Better Shelter units to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which will distribute them globally to displaced families and communities later this year.
The prototype design for the shelters was revealed in 2013 and has since been tested by 40 refugee families in Iraq and Ethiopia, and developed further in response to their feedback.
 "Many of the current shelters used in refugee camps have a life span of approximately six months before the impact of sun, rain and wind means it needs to be replaced. Yet long-term refugee situations mean that, on average, refugees stay in camps for 12 years," says Ikea.

Designed to last three years, the prototype shelter from Ikea is a shed-like structure made of lightweight polymer panels, laminated with thermal insulation, which clip onto a steel frame.
The shelters take four hours to assemble and come flat-packed with panels, pipes, connectors and wires in cardboard boxes just like an Ikea bookcase.
There's also a textile sheet with aluminium woven into the material that lays over the roof, reflecting the sun during the day and keeping heat in at night. A solar panel laminated on a thin plastic film powers built-in lights and a USB outlet.
At 17.5 square metres, the shelter is twice as large as a traditional refugee tent and each one accommodates five people. The upright walls mean the structure could be upgraded over time, for example by adding earth walls or a metal roof.

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