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Brief Published: 1 Aug 2013

Flat-Pack Refugee Shelter by Ikea


In partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Ikea Foundation (the charitable arm of the Swedish furniture brand) has designed a flat-pack refugee shelter as a more durable alternative to current options.

Twice as large as a normal shelter, the shed-like structure is designed to last three years and can be upgraded over time to extend its life further – a significant improvement on conventional tented shelters, which last only a few months.

The structure’s steel frame is encased in insulated lightweight polymer panels. The textile sheet covering the roof is woven with aluminium to reflect sunlight and keep heat in overnight. And a specially designed solar panel powers in-built lights and USB outlets. Fifty prototypes are currently being tested in Ethiopia, Iraq and Lebanon before a refined design is put into production.

The Ikea Foundation is a key example of a brand looking to further apply its expertise and design ethos to social aims around the world. For more examples of this mentality, see Stylus Industry Trend Design Democracy: Outsider.  

Ikea Foundation