Ikea designs a refugee shelter to replace tents
The Swedish furniture giant is working with the UN to create easily built, durable, solar-powered homes for the world's displaced.
Love it or hate it, you can't escape Ikea. The Swedish furniture giant has more than 300 stores in 37 countries and territories, including nearly 40 stores across 21 states. And you can gripe about its flat cartons filled with "assembly required" furnishings and Allen wrenches, but Ikea might also be bringing its low-cost, simple construction designs to a new group of desperate consumers: refugees.
The U.N. recently estimated the number of refugees and internally displaced people globally is now at its highest level in nearly two decades. It said at the end of last year over 45 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflicts, persecution or human rights abuses.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says about 3.5 million of those refugees live in tents, which offer minimal protection from the elements and typically wear out in about six months.
So, the UNHCR turned to Ikea to design a cost-efficient refugee shelter that can be easily transported and assembled in crisis zones -- while lasting up to three years.
The company recently unveiled its prototype shelter. Like all things Ikea, it comes in a flat-packed box, but it can be assembled in just four hours without tools, and it has enough room to house a family of five.
The shelter's lightweight plastic walls and roof deflect heat during the day but retain it at night. The roof has flexible solar panels that provide some minimal electrical power in each shelter.
"We’ve been working on this for three years and it's … a significant investment," Per Heggenes, CEO of the Ikea Foundation, the company's charitable arm, told the Christian Science Monitor. "[W]e hope that this will be a product that can be manufactured commercially and offered in the market to all organizations that are dealing with emergency and disaster situations."
Several dozen of the shelter prototypes, costing $8,000 each are being tested in real-life conditions at UNHCR camps in Ethiopia, Syria and Lebanon. If they're successful, according to the Monitor, the hope is that enough of them can be produced to bring the overall cost down closer to the price of the currently used tents.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages posted solid gains ahead of tomorrow's policy directive from the Federal Open Market Committee. The S&P 500 rallied 0.8%, while the Russell 2000 (+0.3%) could not keep pace with the benchmark index.
Equity indices hovered near their flat lines during the first two hours of action, but surged in reaction to reports from the Wall Street Journal concerning tomorrow's FOMC statement. Specifically, Fed watcher Jon Hilsenrath indicated that the statement ... More
More Market News
An interest rate tease in The Wall Street Journal sends the market into an optimistic tizzy -- but one that doesn't end quite at the top.
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'