Good design that’s doing good

Flat pack refugee shelter wins Design of the Year Award


A skyline.
The moon
The Better Shelter tent

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Better Shelter, a flat-pack temporary emergency refugee shelter project supported by IKEA Foundation, has been awarded ‘Beazley Design of the Year’ by London’s respected Design Museum.

Better Shelter was selected winner of both the architecture category, and the overall prize for its “outstanding contribution towards the global issue of population displacement”.

A refugee child playing amongst washing hanging to dry between two rows of Better Shelters.

Safe and durable

The solar-powered Better Shelter is a weatherproof temporary shelter that can be assembled without tools in four hours. It’s made of recyclable plastic, has an expected lifespan of three years, and can accommodate five people. It costs more than refugee tents, but offer important things the tents don’t, such as privacy, security, electricity and durability – it lasts six times longer than a typical emergency tent.

During the prototype phase, several refugee families tested and gave input that improved the shelter’s design.

A Better shelter that has been assembled in a photographic studio
Close up of the lockable door on the better shelter, something that makes life in camps much safer.

Lockable door for safety

Inside shot of Better shelter showing the room dividers that create privacy.

Room dividers for privacy

Close up of the solar cell that created electricity for the Better Shelter temporary weatherproof shelter.

Electricity from solar-power

Changing lives around the world

Better Shelter has already changed the lives of thousands of refugees around the world. Since production started in 2015, approximately 15,000 Better Shelters have been delivered around the world. Thanks to the shelters’ modular design, they are also being used as healthcare centres.

“It shows the power of design to respond to the conditions we are in and transform them. Innovative, humanitarian and implemented, Better Shelter has everything that a Beazley Design of the Year should have,” said jury member Jana Scholze of Kingston University.

It shows the power of design to respond to the conditions we are in and transform them.


Support from IKEA

The shelter has been developed by the Swedish social enterprise Better Shelter, in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), with funding from the IKEA Foundation. IKEA of Sweden developers have contributed with support, advice and testing.

“IKEA Foundation is an invaluable partner in this project, and having access to the IKEA technical and logistics expertise is important to us,” says Märta Terne, Head of Marketing and Communication at Better Shelter.

4 hours in 2 minutes …

Watch the Better Shelter being assembled without tools in four hours (in just two minutes).

What is IKEA Foundation?

IKEA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of INGKA Holding B.V. (owner of the largest IKEA franchisee). The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world’s poorest communities by focusing on four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income.

IKEA Foundation is also helping these communities fight and cope with climate change. By working with very strong strategic partners such as Handicap International, IKEA Foundation can use innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results for children.

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