FEB 15, 2018 7:54 AM PST

This Refugee Shelter Can Be Built in Hours and Lasts Three Years

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

The Better Shelter organization, which launched through a partnership between the Ikea Foundation and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), created an innovative emergency shelter to address the global refugee crisis. The Ikea Foundation is the not-for-profit branch of the Swedish furniture giant. In 2017, Better Shelter shared that its emergency shelter won both the Grand Prize and architecture award in the prestigious Beazley Design competition, which focuses on original and mold-breaking designs around the globe. A total of 70 projects were nominated into the contest, which gives awards in six categories: digital, graphics, products, architecture, fashion and transport, along with the Grand Prize.

Better Shelter's design, credit: Better Shelter

“We are above all pleased that this prize brings attention to our hard work, and as a result, the refugee situation as a whole. We accept this award with mixed emotions – while we are pleased that this kind of design is honored, we are aware that it has been developed in response to the humanitarian needs that have arisen as the result of the refugee crisis,” Johan Karlsson, interim managing director of Better Shelter, said. Better Shelter explains in a press release that Beazley nominations must have designed something that creates change, embodies the overall “spirit” of the times, has a well-developed and innovative design, and creates accessibility.

This shelter can be delivered to refugee camps in two flat-pack cardboard boxes. It is made of steel and recyclable plastic and can be assembled with an illustrated manual without tools. For four people, this reportedly takes about four to eight hours. The 188-square-foot structure is designed to sleep five people. It has a solar panel, USB outlet (for usb drives and other usb accessories) and roof screen that is designed to reflect sunlight during the day and capture heat overnight. After the solar panel charges, it can be used to drive a mobile phone or other USB device or to power a LED light for four hours in the evening. The white temporary homes also have locking doors and windows along with ventilation and are meant to last about three years, which is about six times longer than most emergency tents.

The company sought out feedback from the refugees while creating the design. For example, many of the families and individuals that Better Shelter staff spoke to asked for doors and windows that could be moved in order to better suit their lives in the camp. They might want their windows and doors to face a relative’s home or to be situated for increased privacy.

“The designers reconfigured the windows to fit on any panel section of the shelter," Jonathan Spampinato, head of strategic planning and communications at Better Shelter, said.

In 2015, Better Shelter launched and delivered 10,000 of the structures to international humanitarian operations, including to refugees and displaced peoples in Iraq, Nepal and Ethiopia. More than 30,000 have now been put into use.

According to the World Economic Forum, the number of displaced people on Earth has hit a record high, based off 2016-2017 numbers. At the end of 2016, the number of displaced people was about 65.6 million. To lend perspective to this amount, it is greater than the entire population of the United Kingdom. Out of every 113 people around the globe, one is now a refugee.

Watch the shelter being assembled below:

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
JAN 06, 2023
Technology
America's earliest stone tools may have been discovered in Idaho
America's earliest stone tools may have been discovered in Idaho
A new discovery from the Cooper's Ferry site suggests earlier origins for stone tools in the Americas.
JAN 20, 2023
Earth & The Environment
Historic Fire Regimes and Lake Core Sediments | Kerri Minatre, PhD Candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno | Grad Student Highlights
Historic Fire Regimes and Lake Core Sediments | Kerri Minatre, PhD Candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno | Grad Student Highlights
Kerri Minatre is a first-gen, non-traditional, 4th-year PhD Candidate in the Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology p ...
JAN 19, 2023
Technology
Computers that power self-driving cars could be a big driver of global carbon emissions
Computers that power self-driving cars could be a big driver of global carbon emissions
Autonomous, or self-driving cars, sometimes still feel like a fixture of the future. Though significant advances have be ...
JAN 26, 2023
Technology
Preventing car crashes at night with tools inspired by insects
Preventing car crashes at night with tools inspired by insects
The majority of car crashes happen at night, despite only about a quarter of all car travel happening at this time. And ...
JAN 22, 2023
Neuroscience
Brain Game Predicts Viral Infection
Brain Game Predicts Viral Infection
A study published in Scientific Reports found a link between viral infection risk and an individual's alertness and ...
FEB 02, 2023
Immunology
Histotripsy - A New Sound-Based Cancer Treatment Stimulates Immunity
Histotripsy - A New Sound-Based Cancer Treatment Stimulates Immunity
Histotripsy is a technique that uses sound waves to rip tumors apart, without even breaking the skin. The non-invasive w ...
Loading Comments...