a quick build emergency flat-pack shelter

Whether you believe climate change is a real thing or not, there’s no denying the growing frequency and severity of natural disasters–wild fires, hurricanes and storms, flooding, tornadoes… Accessible, easy-to-build emergency relief housing is definitely becoming a necessity for cities around the world.

A collaboration between the IKEA Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) has resulted in a flat-pack emergency shelter that costs about US$1,000 and can be built in only four hours.

a quick build emergency flat-pack shelter | @meccinteriors | design bites
Flat-Pack Shelter diagram

Like all things IKEA, the shelter comes in flat-pack boxes that include all the necessary tools for constructing the temporary homes. The step-by-step instructions are very visual in nature, eliminating the need for translation into multiple languages.

a quick build emergency flat-pack shelter | @meccinteriors | design bites
The shelter is a joint effort between the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR.

Given that disasters and relief shelters are needed internationally across vastly different climates, the shelters are flexible, adaptable, and modular.

As Weburbanist explains:

a quick build emergency flat-pack shelter | @meccinteriors | design bites
A built shelter from the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR.

While the structures themselves are still only expected to last a few years, they are made to be modified, enhanced and expanded in various ways. For instance, earthen walls and corrugated metal roofs can be pushed up against, fastened to and ultimately help reinforce the core buildings, or even eventually replace the need for underlying framework entirely, rendering it redundant.

a quick build emergency flat-pack shelter | @meccinteriors | design bites
Interior lighting and power is provided by solar energy.

The shelters are constructed primarily from polymer panels that clip into a wire frame. On top sits an aluminum-mesh roofing sheet that is designed to reflect sunlight by day and retain heat by night. Solar energy charges a USB outlet for electrical needs. The target price range for mass production is under $1000, making it affordable in bulk to international organizations.


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