Better Shelter designed by Johan Karlsson, Dennis Kanter, Christian Gustafsson, John van Leer, Tim de Haas, Nicolò Barlera, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR has been named the Beazley Design of the Year.
For many million refugees living in camps or temporary settlements, a tent is the only home they have. Imagine existing in a never-ending world of insecurity and chaos where your life is on hold. You have had to leave your own home, your routines and your everyday life behind. Now, all around are 25,000 other people just like you, packed so tightly you can hear every conversation, every argument, and every crying child. Sanitary conditions are poor. Disease is rife. You and your family are hungry and have very little opportunity to find work or to earn money. As a woman you feel unsafe and you have no way of knowing if this misery will last days, weeks or years. Add to this your traumatic memories of violence and war, which will haunt you forever.
For the millions of people living in tented refugee camps around the world, this is reality. This is life.
The simple fact of having a home, a right so fundamental most of us take it for granted, can dramatically improve the physical and psychological situation of refugees.
The Better Shelter meets the basic needs for the activities of basic living, for privacy, security and familiarity. It is a safe base offering a sense of peace, identity and dignity. And though it may be humble, it is somewhere even the most vulnerable people on earth can call a home away from home.
Tents, most common form or shelter used in emergency relief, are good as a rapid response: with tents relief actors can provide a roof over people’s heads very quickly in the aftermath of a disaster. But while even the strongest tent will only last a matter of months, refugees often spend several years – even generations – in camps.
The Better Shelter is designed to last for at least three years, and is suitable for situations where local materials or construction workers are in short supply. The Better Shelter does not cause deforestation, as may be the case when using local materials for shelter in large settlements or when the supply of materials is scarce.”