Wednesday, July 3, 2013

ikea flat-pack refugee shelters




the ikea foundation has been working with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which currently houses displace people in traditional ridge tents or more modern hoop tents, neither of which provide insulation or lasts more than a few months.

"many of the current shelters used in refugee camps have a life span of approximately six months before the impact of sun, rain & wind means it needs to be replaced. yet long-term refugee situations mean that, on average, refugees stay in camps for 12 years," says ikea.

designed to last 3 years, the prototype shelter from ikea is a shed-like structure made of lightweight polymer panels, laminated with thermal insulation, which clip onto a steel frame.

the shelters take 4 hours to assemble & come flat-packed with panels, pipes, connectors & wires in cardboard boxes just like an ikea bookcase. there's also a textile sheet with aluminium woven into the material that lays over the roof, reflecting the sun during the day & keeping heat in a night. a solar panel laminated on a thin plastic film powers built-in lights & a USB outlet.

at 17.5 square meters, the shelter is twice as large as a traditional refugee tent & each one accommodates five people. the upright walls mean the structure could be upgraded over time, for example by adding earth walls or a metal roof.

the firm hopes they could be made for around £655 each once in mass production.  ikea's refugee housing unit is manufacturing 50 trial shelters to be tested in ethiopia, iraq & lebanon.

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