Modern Design for – Refugee Camps

The design of the basic canvas tent used to house a portion of the 50 million people currently made homeless by war, oppression, and natural disasters, has not changed much since WWI. The conventional tent is cold in the winter, hot in the summer and begins to fall apart after six months of continuous use. On World Refugee Day in June, the Ikea Foundation introduced a new flat-pack modular house that is easy to transport and assemble.

The shelter is designed as part of a two-year project conducted in collaboration with the Swedish Refugee Housing Unit (RHU) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The pack holds a frame of metal pipes, connectors, and heavy gauge wires to support walls and a roof made of lightweight plastic panels. To regulate inside temperature, there is an aluminized cloth roof cover that reflects heat, so the shelter is cooler during the day and warmer at night. In addition, a solar panel is sewn into the roof fabric and provides power for a built-in overhead lamp and USB port inside the tent. Also, a clear plastic window flips open outwards for ventilation.

According to Ikea, the house takes only four hours to construct and will last three years, providing better security and ventilation for the families it houses. Test packs will go out to Somali refugees living in UNHCR refugee camps at Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, and the design will be improved using data collected there. The current prototypes cost $10,000, but Ikea Foundation is confident that can be brought to under $1,000 with mass production. Watch one come together below: