Of the 70 projects nominated, the Better Shelter emergency home won two Beazley Design Awards in London, including the grand prize. The refugee shelter, developed by IKEA and the United Nations Refugee Agency, also took home the design award for developing the flat-packing temporary 188-square foot home with solar panels and a battery-system that provides up to four hours of light and a USB port for charging electronic devices.
Energy is in high demand when people are displaced or even when the grid fails. Solar power has been an integral part of many recovery efforts. In the US, portable solar arrays deployed by during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy helped residents charge cell phones, power lights and refrigerators that helped keep critical medications and other perishables stable.
"We are incredibly proud to be bringing home both the Beazley Designs of the Year Award for Architecture and this year’s Grand Prize—especially in a year with such intense competition,” said Johan Karlsson, initiator and interim Managing Director of Better Shelter. IKEA began developing the Better Shelter in 2010 as a solution to temporary housing with energy for refugees of war and natural disasters.
Generally, refugee tents and shelters are designed to last up to three months. The Better Shelter’s steel frame and resilient outer materials allow each unit to last up to 12-months, depending on environmental conditions. Each costs about $1,000 and can shelter up to 5 people. Consisting of 68 parts, it weighs 372 pounds and takes just four to eight hours to construct without additional tools.
Each modular unit allows its inhabitants to adapt the layout according to personal needs. Its flexibility also allows inhabitants to add sections to existing units to make larger structures, as well as replace damaged components without having to dismantle the entire structure.
”We are above all pleased that this prize brings attention to our hard work, and as a result, the refugee situation as a whole. We accept this award with mixed emotions—while we are pleased that this kind of design is honored, we are aware that it has been developed in response to the humanitarian needs that have arisen as the result of the refugee crisis,” said Karlsson.
The Swedish company, known for its flat-pack, modular furniture has also tried to make it easier for others to go solar. In 2013 it introduced a flat-pack 3.3-kilowatt rooftop solar array product to consumers in Great Britain, for instance.Tweet