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Ikea Foundation Introduces Better Refugee Shelter 163

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the where-is-allen-wrench-b17 dept.
Lasrick writes "This is truly brilliant: Ikea has joined with the UN Refugee Agency to design a longer lasting flatpack shelter that includes a solar panel and UV reflecting material." From the article: "Ikea's design, a cross between a giant garden shed and a khaki canvas marquee, is formed from lightweight laminated panels that clip on to a simple frame, providing UV protection and thermal insulation. Like an Ikea product, the polymer panels come packed in a box, along with a bag of pipes, connectors and wires – and no doubt a cartoon construction manual." And they last for around three years.
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Ikea Foundation Introduces Better Refugee Shelter

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  • Ok.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So... the steel rod goes through the tarp and latches onto... wait... ... is that a screw? This thing better not fall apart in a week...

    • Re:Ok.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jonwil (467024) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @12:23AM (#44201183)

      I have a whole household full of IKEA products that have served me well for years, I see no reason why the same couldn't apply to these shelters too.

      • Re:Ok.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jamstar7 (694492) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @12:39AM (#44201257)

        I have a whole household full of IKEA products that have served me well for years, I see no reason why the same couldn't apply to these shelters too.

        The difference, of course, is your Ikea furniture isn't exposed to the elements. A 3 year lifespan for a temporary shelter isn't bad...

      • by Khyber (864651)

        Go set your IKEA products out in the elements for a while and see if they even last 6 months.

        • by TWX (665546)
          Sometimes I wonder if just empty shipping containers would be the best answer.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            How many shipping containers can you fit into a shipping container? How many can you fit onto the back of a truck? I have a feeling your ability to distribute them would be severely limited.
            • by Khyber (864651)

              You could fit a bunch of PODS in a shipping container. a PODS could work for a living structure.

              • by Moryath (553296)

                Yeah, if you want people to die of heatstroke. The PODS design becomes a solar oven in no time.

            • Some shipping containers collapse for the return trip.

            • by couchslug (175151)

              The best use for shipping containers in refugee situations would be to unload containers holding supplies then use the container with something like the Sea Box kits when it's empty. Of course the rest of the container could be filled with Ikea kits.

              http://www.seabox.com/shelterpak.php [seabox.com]

              Containers can be used to make structures used by the group or NGOs providing relief while families live in the tent-ish shelters.

              Containers are stable at high wind velocities, easy to modify with basic equipment, and since t

          • by Imrik (148191)

            You mean like this? [shelterkraft.com]

        • by Anonymous Coward

          *looks at his Ikea deck chairs*

          Yeah, still there.

        • by Calydor (739835)

          Most IKEA products aren't -designed- to be exposed to the elements, though. They are designed to be placed indoors in a controlled environment.

          I'm pretty sure these shelters are designed with weather in mind at least until something else is proven.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Most IKEA products aren't -designed- to be exposed to the elements, though. They are designed to be placed indoors in a controlled environment.

            I'm pretty sure these shelters are designed with weather in mind at least until something else is proven.

            You are pretty wrong. Shelters are made to be extremely cheap and easy to transport. At the moment transporting cost is the limiting factor. The cost of setting up a refugee shelter is measured in its weight.
            Mostly refugee shelters are just tents but sometimes they are made of recycled cardboard boxes or tents supported by a paper tube frame.

            Here is a link to an article about a refugee shelter where heavy rain damaged 7000 tents. [unhcr.org]

            • by msauve (701917)
              "You are pretty wrong."

              Whoosh.

              The GP was talking about the subject of this whole thread - an Ikea designed shelter which was designed specifically to hold up to the environment better than the tents currently being used.
        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          Those that are designed to be outside would probably last quite well.

          Of course if you're a dumbass like most people and buy indoor stuff for outdoors, you deserve what you get. Though people who have their Ikea failures usually are the same types that get electric shocks from their indoor fans that they move outdoors "because what could happen, right?"

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          Which IKEA products? The ones made of fibre board? The ones made of glass? The ones made of plastic? The ones made of metal?

          Is there some weird reason why you think IKEA are only capable of making products out of completely unsealed untreated wood?

        • Go set your IKEA products out in the elements for a while and see if they even last 6 months.

          I imagine the ones that are designed for outdoor use [ikea.com] would manage quite nicely, thank you.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Why would you expect products designed for inside use to last outside? Put your TV out in the rain for a while and see how well it does.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      From what I saw in the video it looks like it will. In fact it seems they couldn't even attach one of the panels properly (lower left side). Now if IKEA has trouble building their own product, imagine some illiterate 3rd world peasant. Also, why the hell would you want to make things more comfortable in a shelter? You do NOT want to give people a reason to stay longer.
      • by snugge (229110)

        a) It is a prototype. Perfect fit is not expected.
        b) People tend to stay in refugee camps not because of the comfort of the facilities, but due to the fact that WAR still is raging.

      • Re:Ok.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mutube (981006) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @09:40AM (#44202725) Homepage

        Also, why the hell would you want to make things more comfortable in a shelter? You do NOT want to give people a reason to stay longer.

        I know, right!

        I heard that back where those refugees came from there are loads of free bullets. Why can't they eat them?! You don't even have bend down to pick them up, they're flying right around in the air at head height!!

        But I guess that's not good enough for them. That's why they're coming over here into the middle of desert, stealing our barren landscape.

        So selfish.

        Excuse me while I go buy a new iPad.

      • Also, why the hell would you want to make things more comfortable in a shelter? You do NOT want to give people a reason to stay longer.

        Exactly right! If you're taking care of refugees, you want to make sure they're as miserable as possible so the better choice is for them to go back 'home' so their daughters can be be raped and their sons can be forced to become child soldiers.

        Fuckwit. Do you even know what a refugee is?

  • Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @12:27AM (#44201191)
    The video said the average family will be in these tents for ten years, while the durability of these tents is 3 years (up from 6 months from the old tents). That sounded odd to me until I realized I've been living for 6 years with Ikea furniture which felt like it would last two months.

    Good on Ikea. Though I wish they had said what crazy swedish name they were going to call these things.
    • by MeepMeep (111932)
      Considering the people who need it don't own anything....maybe LACK?

      Wait, that's taken
    • by plover (150551) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @01:34AM (#44201439) Homepage Journal

      Though I wish they had said what crazy swedish name they were going to call these things.

      I figured they'd call it SHAANTEA.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You misunderstood: the durability of the *current* tents (canvas) is 6 months, although the average family lives in the camp for 12 years (presumably in the same tent).

      The durability of the IKEA shelter (not the tent) is 3 years.

      • No, I understood. I phrased it that way to try to make it clear I was setting up a joke, not criticizing IKEA or those who provide tents. And I accidentally called the IKEA shelters tents.
    • by psergiu (67614)

      The most logical name:

      FLYKTINGBOSTÃDER

  • We need those here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @12:30AM (#44201211) Homepage

    San Francisco has 8,000 homeless people. Those could help.

    • by jamstar7 (694492) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @12:42AM (#44201269)

      San Francisco has 8,000 homeless people. Those could help.

      The problem is, where do you put them up? NIMBY ('Not In My Back Yard!!') is the watchword here.

      • What would a 3D Printer look like to make these things on demand?
        • It would look incredibly slow.
      • by argStyopa (232550)

        Or maybe don't enable them to be any bit more comfortable as homeless people?

        Yes, there are some people that life has purely shat upon. If you can cull them out and help them, great, but the fact is that MOST homeless people are there because they made shitty life choices.

        While the impulse to help them is genuinely kind, if you make 'being homeless' any less onerous, what are you going to get? MORE HOMELESS.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The homeless aren't refugees and can't be treated like them. 8000 crazy alcoholics with poor impulse control would indeed be a NIMBY nightmare.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      8000 winos trying to follow Ikea assembly instructions. A sight to behold. They'll end up sleeping in the cardboard packing.

      • Judging from what those assembly instructions look like, my guess is that you have to be drunk, high or otherwise ... let's say "have augmented senses" to understand them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nobody knows why Ikea ignored the hexayurt designs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexayurt , http://hexayurt.com/ [hexayurt.com] ). NIH?
    • by icebike (68054) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @01:22AM (#44201399)

      Hard to pack in boxes, and they make inefficient use of limited land, that's my guess.
      Might also be harder to assemble.

      Since Ikea Already uses one percent of all the processed wood [gizmodo.in] in the world, i suspect they also know that other designs are more resource demanding.

    • by hrvatska (790627)
      Because the roof has multiple joints that would be susceptible to leaking when the tape adhesive started to fail? The whole thing looks like it is held together by adhesive tape; just how durable is that?
      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday July 06, 2013 @08:35AM (#44202439) Homepage Journal

        Hexayurts/hexadomes are put together out of plywood, not canvas and sticks. If painted, they should last substantially more than ten years. And they are made out of materials available pretty much anywhere in the USA, we have a lot of plywood. It doesn't even matter too much what kind of plywood you use.

        I just have to wonder how this project compares to erecting hexayurts costwise. We are talking about Ikea, masters of charging a lot for crap.

  • by thephydes (727739) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @01:32AM (#44201433)
    are often simple to use when they come to fruition. One could say this approach was obvious - so obvious in fact that no-one else has made it work yet. It quite likely needs some fine tuning but what implementation of an idea does not? Good work!
  • Are Ikea products at least on average shipped with the correct number of screws, bolts and parts?

    • Are Ikea products at least on average shipped with the correct number of screws, bolts and parts?

      I've purchased fourteen pieces of Ikea furniture. I have yet to get one that didn't have all the pieces necessary, and if you should be unlucky enough to be missing parts, replacements can be obtained from Ikea easily.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @02:41AM (#44201681) Journal

    While any incremental advances in design are a good thing, it seems like the timescales we are talking about here are starting to get into 'perhaps you need to re-think your approach to the problem...' territory.

    12 years is really pushing the idea of 'temporary' to the limit. How long do you go before you stop trying to incrementally decrease the squalor in a given refugee camp and start to admit that either you need to get your shit together on whatever is keeping your refugee camp full, or you need to admit that you have no resolution in sight on that one, and admit that your refugee camp is now a town.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Well, since refugee's are usually fleeing their home country the problem probably exists outside your ability to gracefully intervene. Your solutions are pretty much limited to maintaining indefinite refugee camps, shipping the refugees elsewhere (if anyone will take them), or granting them citizenship or at least work visas so they can become contributing members of their new country of residence (with all the problems that causes to the local labor markets). Or of course getting deeply mired in the inte

      • Well, since refugee's are usually fleeing their home country the problem probably exists outside your ability to gracefully intervene. Your solutions are pretty much limited to maintaining indefinite refugee camps, shipping the refugees elsewhere (if anyone will take them), or granting them citizenship or at least work visas so they can become contributing members of their new country of residence (with all the problems that causes to the local labor markets). Or of course getting deeply mired in the internal politics of your neighbors who have already been shooting at each other for years. Not really a lot of good options there.

        Oh, I'm definitely not saying that there are any good options, just questioning the wisdom of attempting to design 'temporary housing' if your actual use case ends up being north of a decade long. 'Temporary' usually comes with substantial tradeoffs(either in price, if it's the good stuff, or in quality, if it's the cheap seats). Those are generally worth it if 'permanent' or 'semi-permanent' are overqualified and overpriced/hard to remove for the job because you are only expecting people to be staying for

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          >I'd imagine that there is a strong incentive for everyone involved to pretend that any given situation is purely temporary, it'll be over shortly; but I suspect that maintaining that illusion might be leading to sub-optimal allocation of resources and design efforts that are aiming at the wrong goals.

          And there I think you've hit the nail on the head. Allocation of time, energy, and resources is no doubt sub-optimal, but the alternative is to spend political capital. And it takes a pretty altruistic pol

  • Could they have picked a worse spokesperson? His English was barely intelligible with such a heavy French accent. Why did we need him to even speak when Jonathan from the IKEA Foundation did such a fine job at explaining everything?
  • Better than most of their furniture.

  • Sounds terrible... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by evilviper (135110) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @05:34AM (#44202111) Journal

    Six months sounds good enough, to me. That's longer than I would want to live in a temporary shelter. Much longer and you're not so much providing humanitarian aid, as you are shipping-in prefabricated houses for many thousands of people.

    Those six months should be ample time to put together enough clay/adobe bricks to build a real, semi-permanent structure, with ample insulation, firebox, etc. Roofing materials might be more difficult, but helping to source those is better than giving out housing you've deemed "acceptable"...

    After 6 months, you should be building-up an economy... Paying some of those local refugees (a truly tiny amount of) money, to construct real homes for their fellow refugees, and hopefully even a few commercial structures.

    • by Dyne09 (1305257) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @06:43AM (#44202213)
      The idea of a refugee settlement utilizing relatively permanent building materials can and does occur, however it's often the case that host governments simply refuse to allow that to happen. A shelter using permanent materials quickly becomes a small town, which lends legitimacy to refugee settlements. Some host governments want mobile tent cities so they can be moved every year or so, or at the very least broken down quickly once what what ever situation is causing the resentment crisis in the first place is resolved. That said, the types of things you're describing tend to happen organically over time, especially with refugee situations that drag on for years. It only makes sense for a number of obvious reasons.
    • Six months sounds good enough, to me. That's longer than I would want to live in a temporary shelter. Much longer and you're not so much providing humanitarian aid, as you are shipping-in prefabricated houses for many thousands of people. (...)

      After 6 months, you should be building-up an economy... Paying some of those local refugees (a truly tiny amount of) money, to construct real homes for their fellow refugees, and hopefully even a few commercial structures.

      You don't seem to realize that there are millions of stateless people out there in the world.

      Consider the breakups of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia for but recent examples. Not one of us says one country; not born here says the other. Stateless. Dramatically so when they end up in refugee camps, as was the case the Balkans.

      What it means in practice: no citizenship in their home country; no citizenship in the country they're refugees in; no passport; no State willing to give them a passport; no State rushi

  • It's about cost (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dyne09 (1305257) on Saturday July 06, 2013 @06:36AM (#44202197)
    I have worked in disaster response operations as a logistics and procurement person for six years, including rapid onset refugee settlements. Though I haven't worked directly in camp management, I have worked with purchasing, transporting and setting up these types of tents before. It doesn't say in this article, but other sources point out that even at mass production, the IKEA shelter will cost about twice as much as a canvas tent. At the end of the day, if you're setting up a tent city for 20,000 displaced refugees, that's a difference between 10 and 20 million dollars. Any large aid organization or donor simply isn't going to be able to justify doubling its operation costs. I should also add that one of the selling points of the IKEA structure is that tents only last six months, while these will last years. I don't know how long the UNHCR tents were designed for, but I think it's safe to say that in virtually every settlement I have been to, those tents tend to last longer than six months...alot longer. Usually, the tents are up for multiple years at a time, sometimes reused. This is not a justification for their crappy construction or poor amenities, but I have seen canvas tents that have been one place for six years, so the argument that the IKEA shelters is more economical in the long run isn't grounded in reality. Link to outside info: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/06/27/196356373/new-kind-of-ikea-hack-flat-packs-head-to-refugee-camps?ft=1&f=1004 [npr.org]
    • What do the aid organizations value? Do they want a sustainable shelter that's designed for people to live in for a decade, or do they want a cheap crappy solution?

      I suppose it depends on who the organizations service. Does it serve the refugees or the conscience of the donors?

    • by matfud (464184)

      I am sure I know less about it than you. The current tents are not designed for long or even medium term living. Unfortunately long term housing is what they end up being used for. Yes it costs more up front but so do adding sewers and water supplies. They are all a requirement for living healthily and reasonably.
      The problem with permanent or semi-permanent structures is that in many cases the "host" country does not want them. In disaster situations this idea is known to work. There are still people livin

  • Wonder how well they hold up to strong winds.. those panels look flimsy and the solar thing is sure to get ripped off. Also looks like these are aimed only at hot places. Are there no refuges where it is cold?

    • Are there no refuges where it is cold?

      I can't think of where there are currently any refugees (at least, in large numbers) in cold places, no. Odd, really. Does anyone else know of any?

  • Is the cost comparison. Refugees almost always outnumber housing capabilities. The fact that this is an article about their merits and this info is missing raises some concern.
    • The bigger the disaster the better! Bring on global warming! Lets put our charity funds (and pensions) into BP!

      Governments have issues with waste and corruption but the NGOs get away with far far more and almost nothing ever happens to the crooks. No oversight or recourse.

      Just look at Haiti and how much money that poor persecuted nation received but never got their hands on; the claims of corruption justifying the privatization of nearly everything and how little money got to the people. NGOs paying thei

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