Ikea builds better housing for Syrian refugees

Ikea brings their ready-to-assemble expertise to refugees.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

Ikea's philanthropic arm, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is sending 50 prototypes of its innovative, ready-to-assemble refugee shelters to refugee camps in and around Syria, The Telegraph reports.

"For housing we use many types of temporary shelters, but mainly those are tents" said Olivier Delarue, of UNHCR, in the video below. "But quite frankly, the tents haven't evolved much over the years. They still rely on canvas, ropes, and poles. They are hot during the summer and cold in winter."

As SmartPlanet reported earlier this year, these prototypes, like much of Ikea furniture are flatpacked, making them easy to ship, but unlike most of Ikea's products they don't require an Allen wrench. Instead, they can be built without tools. And unlike the majority of refugee housing, these prototypes can last up to three years. Normal shelters only last six months. That's a lot less change for families who are in refugee camps for an average of 12 years.

What else makes these shelters innovative? First off, there are solar panels built into the roof to provide lighting. There are also light-weight panels and covers to insulate the shelter.

Of course, 50 shelters aren't going to house the millions of Syrians displaced by war, but for the families who will test them it's a certain upgrade and hope for a better refugee camp in the future for everyone else.

Photo: Ikea Foundation

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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