IKEA Develops A Great, Inexpensive Solution To The Problem Of Emergency Housing

Apr 20, 2015 By Archit Tripathi

Swedish furniture giant IKEA is famous for making relatively inexpensive, elegantly designed furniture that can basically be used right out of the box - with a little light assembly using the provided tools and clearly illustrated manuals. Back in 2013, they focused their attention and unique creative vision to address a very real third-world problem: lack of adequate shelter.

Recognizing the need for sturdy, cost-effective shelters in disaster areas and refugee camps (which often need to house people for much longer than expected in severe environmental conditions), the company launched an initiative in 2013 to find a solution. Starting with 40 testing units which have yielded positive results, IKEA is now ready to mass-produce these units for just $1000.


The "Better Shelter" was designed to be cheap, sturdy and adaptable. Refugees often end up living in camps for far longer than planned, and these shelters can be customized to be more like home.

Coming in at 200 square feet, it's hardly a stay at the Waldorf, but it's a massive jump up from the flimsy tents that are currently used in most emergency housing scenarios.

All the required panels, pipes, connectors and wires are packed into convenient flat boxes for easy shipping/storage. The overall design is standardized for easy manufacturing, but allows modifications to be made easily to adjust to local climate conditions.


IKEA is working in close partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to help get these units deployed to places where they're desperately needed, like Ethiopia and Iraq.

UNHCR Chief of Shelter and Settlement Shaun Scales said the following in a press statement: “The refugee housing unit (RHU) is an exciting new development in humanitarian shelter and represents a much needed addition to the palette of sheltering options mobilized to assist those in need. Its deployment will ensure dramatic improvement to the lives of many people affected by crises.”

Credit: Web Urbanist

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