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IKEA Has Designed Temporary Housing for Refugees

The next time you find yourself bordering on a tantrum in a frustrating attempt to assemble IKEA furniture, keep in mind that the company is making a positive difference in the rest of the world (that isn’t your living room).

It turns out the Swedish furniture giant designs more than just furniture and countertops – it also designs refugee shelters.

The IKEA shelters are built by Better Shelter, a social enterprise run by IKEA’s non-profit foundation, to help refugees fleeing violence and conflict. Unlike the furniture you had in university, they’re pretty durable too. The shelters are safer, stronger, larger, and more cost effective than the tents typically used by the UN for refugees.

Compared to current UN tents that only last about six months in harsh weather conditions, IKEA’s Better Shelters can last up to three years.

Apparently, they’re easy to assemble as well (sure IKEA, sure) and can be built without needing any extra tools or equipment. Construction takes anywhere between four and eight hours.

The shelters are composed of three individual parts – the frame, the panels, and a photovoltaic system for lights and power on the roof, which is powered by the sun. There is 57 square feet of space inside the shelters, and they’re six feet tall, allowing (most) people to stand up straight.


Each shelter comes with durable, lockable doors designed to protect families from intruders and sexual assault.

IKEA ships the shelters in two massive cardboard boxes, which can be lifted by four people. Earlier this year, the UN’s Refugee Agency ordered 10,000 shelters for refugee families across the globe.


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