IKEA’s Award-Winning Refugee Shelters Are Literally Saving Lives

Generally when we think IKEA we think Nordic assemble-at-home furniture and meatballs we hope are horse meat free. But the great Swedish juggernaut is continuing its expansion beyond the furniture game. They’ve taken a hard look at the world’s refugee crises and decided to apply their assemble-at-home philosophy for refugees — so they can literally assemble their own homes.

For most of the world’s 67 million refugees home life is nothing more than a tarp tent that barely offers any protection (or privacy) from adverse weather. They often deteriorate within months. IKEA saw the problem and is offering a solution in their refugee shelters called Better Shelters. The shelter comes in an iconic IKEA brown cardboard box with a little white booklet of instructions and baggy of tools. Better Shelter’s rep, Johan Karlsson, noted in their press release, “We won’t solve the global refugee situation with our accommodation solution, but we can make life easier.” He continued, “Unlike the thin, fragile tents available in many refugee camps today, the Better Shelter has hard walls, lockable door and a solar-powered lamp.”

Each unit is transformable. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) used them as pop up clinics after the Nepali earthquake of 2015. Refugee families can also customize the assembly and even move them to secondary locations. This accessibility and easy-to-build design has won IKEA the Beazley Design of the Year and Architecture awards.

The shelters are already being used in ten locations across Europe, Asia, and Africa. All of these could mean a matter of life and death as a hard winter sets in across Europe and the Middle East and Donald Trump signs a freeze for refugees seeking freedom in America.

(Via The Guardian)