Flat packed refugee homes from IKEA

How do you make a house to a family of 5 that you can fit in a station wagon?

It is IKEA’s philanthropic branch, the IKEA foundation, that is developing flat packed housing solutions to refugee camps in cooperation with the UN refugee program. The quality and design of housing in refugee camps haven’t changed much for the last 100 years and are still almost exclusively made up of tents. Understandable; as both the production and logistics of shipping and assembly tents are simple. How ever flat packed houses will keep those advantages to some degree. IKEA is hoping that when those houses reaches mass production the cost of producing one unit will be around $1000, twice as much as a tent costs today, but with an estimated lifetime of 3 years. 6 times as long as the tents used to day. The houses are also twice as big in terms of areal.

In addition the houses will be better isolated. Both by thicker materials in walls and roof (It is a specially made polymer called Rhulite), but also by the novelty “shade nett” that is mounted with approximately 15 cm from the houses roofs. They reflect sunlight during the day as well as reflect heat from the roof, keeping the living space warmer during nighttime.

The houses include a small solar panel and LED lamp, making activities like studying and cooking possible inside, even after sunset. This was an easy upgrades to the existing tents, but the light blocking material in walls of the houses makes lit evenings possible with out compromising privacy. Turning on the light inside a canvas tent cast shadows on the walls.This infringement on privacy is so strong that many people prefer to live in the darkness. All ready close to 50 pilot homes are being tested in camps in Iraq, Lebanon and Ethiopia.According to Johan Karlson, a project manager at The Refugee Housing Unit (RHU), “This is a very challenging field, we are only tapping the surface of what could be done in the future.”

What other applications could one build into such a house that would increase the living quality its inhabitants with out compromising price and logistics.
Technoport looks forward to seeing the final assemble manual that will follow this flat pack and are curious whether it will get a Nordic IKEA’esque name like “Kåk” or “Sommerstugan”.

 

Photo by the IKEA foundation