IKEA refugee shelter is 2016's Design of the Year

The modular Better Shelter is made from recyclable plastic, comprises only 68 components, and can be assembled in as few as four hours

A flat-pack refugee shelter designed by Swedish furniture giant IKEA has won an award at the Beazley design competition

The ready-to-assemble shelter was created by the Swedish furniture giant in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

It beat the new Tate Modern Switch House and the artwork on the cover David Bowie’s last album. 

The Beazley Design Awards recognise the most original and exciting designs from around the world in six different categories, which include architecture, digital, fashion, graphics, products and transport.

It also won the prize for 2016 architecture design of the year.

The structure was designed in 2015 to “improve the lives of persons displaced by armed conflicts and natural disasters” according to the United Nations refugee agency and the not-for-profit Ikea Foundation.

What is it?

The modular Better Shelter is made from recyclable plastic, comprises only 68 components, and can be assembled in as few as four hours.
 
Each structure is large enough to house a family of five, and includes a solar panel to power lights and charge devices.
 
Since production started in 2015, 16,000 units have been delivered to countries around the world including Iraq, Djibouti, Greece and Niger, to be used as homes, temporary clinics and offices.
 
"Better Shelter tackles one of the defining issues of the moment: providing shelter in an exceptional situation whether caused by violence or disaster," said juror Jana Scholze, an associate professor of curating contemporary design at Kingston University, in a statement.
 
"Providing not only a design, but secure manufacture as well as distribution makes this project relevant and even optimistic. It shows the power of design to respond to the conditions we are in and transform them."