Architecture

Ikea's refugee shelters enter production, 10,000 units planned this year

Ikea's refugee shelters enter ...
The UNHCR will begin shipping the shelters to families living in refugee camps around the world in mid-2015 (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
The UNHCR will begin shipping the shelters to families living in refugee camps around the world in mid-2015 (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
View 21 Images
The Better Shelter can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours by a group of four people with some basic training (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
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The Better Shelter can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours by a group of four people with some basic training (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
Ikea has committed to deliver 10,000 units of its flatpack refugee shelter to UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
2/21
Ikea has committed to deliver 10,000 units of its flatpack refugee shelter to UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
Like its furniture, Ikea's Better Shelter arrives in flatpack form, and can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
3/21
Like its furniture, Ikea's Better Shelter arrives in flatpack form, and can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
The shelter comprises a metal frame of pipes and connectors with stiffening wires to support walls and roofs made of lightweight plastic panels (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
4/21
The shelter comprises a metal frame of pipes and connectors with stiffening wires to support walls and roofs made of lightweight plastic panels (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
The Better Shelter can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours by a group of four people with some basic training (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
5/21
The Better Shelter can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours by a group of four people with some basic training (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
While basic, it's a definite step-up from a tent or makeshift shelter (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
6/21
While basic, it's a definite step-up from a tent or makeshift shelter (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
It looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
7/21
It looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
Ikea has committed to deliver 10,000 units of its flatpack refugee shelter to the UN Refugee Agency (Photo: Better Shelter)
8/21
Ikea has committed to deliver 10,000 units of its flatpack refugee shelter to the UN Refugee Agency (Photo: Better Shelter)
A small solar panel on the roof powers an interior lamp that automatically switches on when the sun sets (Photo: Better Shelter)
9/21
A small solar panel on the roof powers an interior lamp that automatically switches on when the sun sets (Photo: Better Shelter)
The UNHCR will begin shipping the shelters to families living in refugee camps around the world in mid-2015 (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
10/21
The UNHCR will begin shipping the shelters to families living in refugee camps around the world in mid-2015 (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
Ikea has committed to deliver 10,000 units of its flatpack refugee shelter to the UN Refugee Agency (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
11/21
Ikea has committed to deliver 10,000 units of its flatpack refugee shelter to the UN Refugee Agency (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
It looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety (Photo: Better Shelter)
12/21
It looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety (Photo: Better Shelter)
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
13/21
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
14/21
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
15/21
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
16/21
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
Like its furniture, Ikea's Better Shelter arrives in flatpack form, and can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
17/21
Like its furniture, Ikea's Better Shelter arrives in flatpack form, and can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
A roof-based aluminum shade serves to reduce solar heat gain, and there's also a couple of small windows (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
18/21
A roof-based aluminum shade serves to reduce solar heat gain, and there's also a couple of small windows (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
Ikea's flatpack refugee shelter looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
19/21
Ikea's flatpack refugee shelter looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
A small solar panel on the roof powers an interior lamp that automatically switches on when the sun sets (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
20/21
A small solar panel on the roof powers an interior lamp that automatically switches on when the sun sets (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)
21/21
Architectural render of the shelter (Image: Ikea Foundation)

Designing a viable refugee shelter is one thing, but having the necessary infrastructure in place to make huge numbers of the shelter affordably and transporting it to those in need is quite another. Which is why the news that Ikea has committed to deliver 10,000 units of its flatpack refugee shelter to UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) could potentially prove a big deal.

Like its furniture, Ikea's Better Shelter arrives in flatpack form, and ships in just two large cardboard boxes. It can be assembled without any specialist tools in around four hours by a group of four people with some basic training. As we reported back when it was still a prototype, the shelter comprises a metal frame of pipes and connectors with stiffening wires to support walls and a roof made of plastic panels. It looks pretty lightweight but comes with an anchoring system and is sure to be more solid than a tent, and Ikea says it's rated to last around three years.

It looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety (Photo: Ikea Foundation)
It looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety (Photo: Ikea Foundation)

The shelter measures 17.5 sq m (188 sq ft) and comprises one space that looks suitable for accommodating even a fairly large family, if not in comfort then at least in relative safety. A roof-based aluminum shade serves to reduce solar heat gain, and there's also four small windows – though one can still imagine the inside becoming very warm in hotter climes. A small solar panel on the roof powers an interior lamp that automatically switches on when the sun sets and also feeds a USB port for charging small devices.

"The RHU is an exciting new development in humanitarian shelter and represents a much needed addition to the palette of sheltering options mobilized to assist those in need," says Shaun Scales, Chief of Shelter and Settlement, at UNHCR. 
"Its deployment will ensure dramatic improvement to the lives of many people affected by crises."

The shelters are due to go into production imminently and UNHCR will begin shipping them to families living in refugee camps around the world in mid-2015.

Source: Ikea

10 comments
Buellrider
Stiff wind would probably de-build that flimsy looking structure.
Bob Flint
Why no rain collection/filtering in the flexible roof, via a small gutter & filter. Likely they will start cooking inside as in one of the slides it looks like a small fire pit? Smoke, ventilation & flammability?
Joe Apperson
That's really cool as long as those things hold up better than anything IKEA sells.
DrPepper59
So poor yet they still have a TV set. Saw that in South America too. Tar paper house with a TV set.
Lewis M. Dickens III
Generally speaking Ikea is great but they do sell some junk and they have been known to discontinue some very fine things. I've often wondered why they didn't replicate Gio Ponti's great dinner set in Stainless. And It was fun seeing it in Beijing as well as Detroit. But as an Architect I'd say that this is utterly reprehensible. When a major tragedy occurrs and shelter is needed they should immediately send in a fine Architect Planner and determine what would be a great layout and what would be the appropriate method of construction. In a mad rush of course tents work, they have for thousands of years and with modern materials they even should be a lot better, even insulating when necessary. These look cheap, ugly, and dumb from my perspective. When are we going to begin constructing properly? bill Dickens
Bill Bennett
Looks like a multi station Porta Potty from the outside.
christopher
This looks "committee designed" - if they'd ditched the suits, and got some innovation involved, they could have had fully-reusable component parts, eradicated the frame entirely, cut the number of different panels down by 75%, and come up with one system suitable for many needs? (eg: tiny outhouse, shed, large room, giant assembly hall - all from same parts). The people who get UN money, are the rare few who wade through the quagmire of bureaucracy to find it. Smart, resourceful people simply don't have the time or effort, so those poor people never end up with quality.
frogola
three years really, hope they can be recycled.
Bob
Nothing was said about cost per unit. Hopefully, these units are a lot sturdier than they look. I remember seeing the thousands of FEMA trailers sent to New Orleans a few years ago. People who did use them complained of noxious fumes. Most were never used and when sold off three years later, many had the floors rotted completely out. What shoddy construction and a huge waste of money.
Buellrider
Why does a Yurt seem so much nicer.