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IKEA's charitable wing develops a flat-pack house for refugees said to be a major improvement on tents.
The Swedish furniture giant IKEA is known for making easy-to-assemble if not particularly long-lasting structures — which is why they might be a perfect solution for the world's shifting refugee populations.
At any rate, such is the belief of the company’s charitable arm, the IKEA Foundation. The institute is pouring $4.5 million into a new project that provides easy-to-assemble, flat-pack houses for migrant populations, according to The Wall Street Journal.
IKEA's new “Refugee Shelter,” as it is known, has solar technology and aims to put a real roof over refugees' heads.
“This is a better solution than tents,” Paul Spiegel of the UN Refugee Agency told the Journal. “It has potential to be better in the elements and the weather.”
The project is still in the beginning stages, but once fully developed the structures will be a test-run by refugee families living in UN camps in Ethiopia, reported Sweden's The Local.
The first house-tents will be finished by July, according to the innovation-oriented publication co.EXIST, which also has some pretty cool pictures of the design.
According to the UNHCR, right now an estimated 3.5 million people are living in refugee tents worldwide. These tents are usually wrecked within six months, said co.EXIST, while the new IKEA structures are expected to last "10 times that long."
IKEA's shelters would represent a major upgrade in refugee life, with solar panels providing electricity and walls that are weather-resistant, said the Journal.
As project leader Johan Karlsson put it on the IKEA foundation site:
"[W]e were certain that we could help humanitarian agencies create a shelter which would represent better value for money and at the same time significantly improve the lives of refugees and displaced people, as well helping communities be more resilient to disasters."
Watch their video on it here: