IKEA is the last brand you associate with homelessness — and yet the furniture giant is deeply engaged with people who have no place to live. Among its many charitable efforts IKEA established The Housing for All Foundation, which supports a design enterprise called Better Shelter. Better Shelter uses its design know-how to create innovations that combat homelessness created by global conflict. Better Shelter’s innovative temporary homes are being used to house refugees in Nepal, Iraq, and those fleeing war-torn Syria.
The Globe and Mail reports that Better Shelter’s 57-square foot shelters “cost $1,150, about three times what a UNHCR tent costs, but they’re designed to last three years, six times longer than tents, which typically rot or rip within six months.” (Each unit is made of 71 pipes and 35 panels, requiring 4-8 hours to assemble.) Durability is crucial. Astonishingly, the average stay in a refugee camp around the world is 17 years, according to IKEA designer Johan Karlsson, who as a volunteer five years ago saw firsthand how shelters were failing their not-so-temporary residents. Predictably, Better Shelter can’t keep up with demand. So far in 2015 Better Shelter has provided shelter for camps in eight countries, from Iraq and Nepal to Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. Better Shelter isn’t a traditional charity, but a social enterprise. It reinvests all profits back into the company or sends it up the line to The Housing for All Foundation. Learn more about the shelters here.