Ikea's refugee shelter declared best design of 2016
Ikea's Better Shelter refugee shelter has been declared the 2016 Beazley Design of the Year by London's Design Museum. Beating competition from the likes of David Bowie's Blackstar album cover and the Lumos bicycle helmet, the shelter was lauded by the judges for making a positive impact around the globe.
The Better Shelter was designed by Johan Karlsson, Dennis Kanter, Christian Gustafsson, John van Leer, Tim de Haas, Nicolò Barlera, the Ikea Foundation, and UNHCR. Like a piece of Ikea furniture, it's delivered flatpack in a couple of cardboard boxes and can reportedly be assembled in hours without any specialist tools.
The shelter offers more safety and security than the tents more commonly used in refugee camps and comes with an anchoring system to keep it in place in high winds.
Inside, there's a total floorspace of 17.5 sq m (188 sq ft) and while certainly basic, it includes windows, a locking door, and a solar panel on the roof that powers the included light or charges a phone. Over 30,000 of the shelters are currently in use. You can watch a Better Shelter being assembled in the video at the end.
The annual award also recognized winners in Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Product, and Transport categories (the Better Shelter was in the Architecture category), each of which you can see in the gallery.
You can also check out the Better Shelter, category winners, and 70 other nominations at the Design Museum in London until February 19.
Source: Design Museum
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Whilst I am not decrying the attempt at a better solution to housing refugees, I do reckon a better design than this could have been done with IKEA's resources.
OK let's forget what it looks like for a moment. Having assembled and erected many dozens of structures at festivals and camps AND used them in all sorts of weather conditions, I find this design very lacking in practicality.
It suffers from so many design failings that I am almost shocked. Firstly, the flimsy frame used, although this may give some structural integrity once assembled with all of the panels, it is likely to suffer damage during assembly, especially in adverse conditions. Assembling the panels will also be prone to difficulty if there is anything more than a gentle wind. The use of so many small connecting 'pins' in the construction, being not only time-consuming but easily to drop and lose especially in real world conditions, try finding them in grass or when trodden into sand. The panels could have been semi-rigid and interlocked together, or be flexibly linked so they simply folded out. This could avoid the need for the frame in the first place and made the assembly far, far quicker and much easier to do in adverse weather conditions. They could easily incorporate thin wall insulation.
A good design should also be easy to erect by two or three people. As is is, this is just a glorified frame tent that uses thin panels instead of a fabric cover and doesn't deserve any awards at all ...
So I would not get too sycophantic over this company's motivations for being involved with housing illegal migrants. In its history it has benefited from child labour too which now it publicly comes-out on as fighting against.
Ikia are accused of diverting funds to the Ceausescu's henchmen secret police in Romania in the 1980's as part of a £10m p.a. deal.
German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) suggests a deal was also struck between Ikea and Cuba in 1988 which saw sofas, tables and living room sets made by Cuban prisoners.
Ikea have faced allegations that its founder, Ingvar Kamprad, was friends with Swedish Nazi-sympathizer Per Engdahl and worked as a recruiter for the fascist Sweden's Socialist Union (SSS) during World War 2.
Even today IKIA are embroiled in a disintegrating land deal, back in Romania again, for millions of acres of forests across the country sold originally in the time of the corrupt communist government to off-shore investment companies belonging to Harvard University and more recently bought from them by IKIA. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/harvard-ikea-corruption-romania_us_56d86cbbe4b0000de4039509
Building huts to house humans is about this company's limit.