IKEA and the UN are collaborating on the design and distribution of temporary shelters for those displaced by conflict and climate. Twenty-five of the flat-pack shelters are currently being tested in the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia, home to over 190,000 refugees. A further twelve shelters will also be deployed to Lebanon, which hosts 500,000 Syrian refugees.
The 188 square foot shelters are made from rigid plastic panels attached to a lightweight frame. They can be assembled in about four hours by two people, and will comfortably sleep five. A 4,28W solar panel mounted on the roof can power a light after dark or charge a mobile phone. And they can be disassembled, moved, and reassembled at a different site.
As the shelters last for three years they could be a good alternative to canvas tents which, according to the UNCHR, currently house around 10% of the world’s refugee population – some of whom could be dislocated from their homes for as many as twelve years.
The IKEA Foundation is investing €3.4 million in the project, and is also offering its expertise in flat-packing and logistics. UNCHR brings 60 years of relief work experience that influences the design, the technical requirements and the choice of where to field test the prototypes.
Trials have shown that locally-sourced PET bottles can be recycled into the plastic panels, which could bring down the price tag for each shelter – estimated to be over €5,000 – making them far more expensive than a tent.