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Build Technology

Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production 71

jones_supa writes: Ikea's line of flatpack refugee shelters are going into production, the Swedish furniture maker announced this week. The lightweight Better Shelter was developed under a partnership between the Ikea Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and beta tested among refugee families in Ethiopia, Iraq, and Lebanon. Each unit takes about four hours to assemble and is designed to last for three years — far longer than conventional refugee shelters, which typically last about six months. The product is an important tool in the prolonged refugee crisis that has unfolded across the Middle East. The war in Syria has spurred nearly 4 million people to leave their homes. The UNHCR has agreed to buy 10,000 of the shelters, and will begin providing them to refugee families this summer.
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Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production

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  • by hilather ( 1079603 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @11:39AM (#49361333)
    To sell Allen keys at premium at refugee sites.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 28, 2015 @11:40AM (#49361335)

    From time to time IKEA actually has to do something to earn that tax-free charity status. [economist.com]

    • And it seems that they don't actually need to do anything like that. The registered purpose of the charity is "innovation in the field of architectural and interior design", so I guess just coming with a new sofa design every year they should be covered...

  • Ikea: just some oak and some pine and a handful of Norsemen
    Ikea: selling furniture for college kids and divorced men
    Everyone has a home
    But if you don't have a home you can buy one there

    I can now wait for the day that some idiot shows up at my office asking me to certify/upgrade their Ikea shelter the bought on CraigsList for use as a permanent dwelling.

  • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @12:04PM (#49361421)

    By summer, they may have been able to finish assembling half a dozen of those 10,000 shelters.

    • Re:Ikea (Score:4, Funny)

      by Tom ( 822 ) on Sunday March 29, 2015 @04:12AM (#49364081) Homepage Journal

      That's a meme, but also a lie. As IT people especially, we can take a big hint from IKEA in this regards. Their documentation is short, mostly visual, always step-by-step and gives the user exactly the information he needs, with none of the unimportant blabla that many blow up many other documentations from the necessary 3 pages to the actual 30.

      If the instructions for Windows were made by IKEA, thousands of IT support people would be out of jobs because users could actually do simple tasks by themselves.

      • A good manual saves 80% of helpdesk time. A really good manual saves 90%.
        Ikea manuals are really good. They even allow their products to be less logical in construction, resulting in lower production cost and lower transport cost on top of the lower helpdesk cost. The manual is a one time investment, the others are continuous.
        As with all things, this is a balance. Making a good manual costs time and money. I wouldn't be surprised if each IKEA product is assembled according to the manual a few dozen times be

        • by grnbrg ( 140964 )

          A good manual saves 80% of helpdesk time. A really good manual saves 90%.

          Ikea manuals are really good. They even allow their products to be less logical in construction, resulting in lower production cost and lower transport cost on top of the lower helpdesk cost. The manual is a one time investment, the others are continuous.

          The problem is that very few people read manuals, and the sort of IT-ish people who read /. are among that few. Software (And software meant for end users, like Windows and Office...) used to come with manuals that ran to hundreds of pages, and documented every feature. Most of them never left their shrink wrap.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        If the instructions for Windows were made by IKEA, thousands of IT support people would be out of jobs because users could actually do simple tasks by themselves.

        If Microsoft wrote Windows manuals like IKEA manuals, tech support would spend most of its time fixing monitors that were installed upside down.

  • It's about time the people displaced by Ikea's relentless territorial expansion found shelter.

  • Ikea good points (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Livius ( 318358 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @12:08PM (#49361435)

    Ikea is not the best corporate citizen, nor do they have the best quality or the best prices.

    But their stuff is clever. I like clever. Why can't other manufacturers think ahead and from the customer's perspective like that?

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @12:11PM (#49361451) Journal
      You don't need to have the best quality or be the cheapest, even from a customer perspective. As long as you offer the best value for money. Ikea does pretty good there as long as you know what to buy there and what to avoid. And don;t forget to put a price on convenience: instead of waiting 4-8 weeks for your new stuff, you get to take it home and use it right away (some assembly required). That's very useful... we use Ikea all the time in rental properties that need to be furnished on short notice.
      • Re:Ikea good points (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Sunday March 29, 2015 @01:24AM (#49363819)

        You don't need to have the best quality or be the cheapest, even from a customer perspective. As long as you offer the best value for money. Ikea does pretty good there as long as you know what to buy there and what to avoid.

        Exactly. Though, I've done other flat packs and by far Ikea is the best. Their furniture might not be the cheapest, last the longest or be the best, but if you're talking flat pack, they are. And yeah, you could get better, but they're usually something that's pre-built and you have to move it as-is. At least flat pack you can break down into sub assemblies that are 100 times easier to move.

        And it's incredible - the non-Ikea flatpacks I had were just awful - the holes would NEVER align, they were usually the wrong size for the dowels (too big or small) and when you're done it either was wobbly (see holes), or the entire panel was misaligned and thus you had gaps. It's as if they laid it out in a computer and never bothered trying to assemble it. Or even just seeing if comes close to resembling what it was supposed to be.

        It's not like Ikea uses better materials - they pioneered the use of particle board, but that desk... it fell apart in short order. I've got Ikea stuff bought at the same time that's still around made from particle board.

        No, putting IKEA stuff together is fun. I've never understood that complaint, and I'd guess that many of the people repeating the meme have never bought anything from IKEA.

        I've usually enjoyed it - it's a good puzzle. And you have to admit that the instructions are designed to not use words (which have to be translated) and try to be as neutral as possible while still explaining what to do in across cultures, languages and history. Whoever draws those instructions might actually have insights into the human race.

        About the only time I don't like them is when they don't clearly illustrate which way a piece goes around. For the spatially challenged, this can mean they put it all together only to have the wood exposed instead of veneer.

        You'd think maybe a red X on the part that's going to end up in a hidden location, followed through with the illustrated X would help identifying which way it goes.

      • by Tom ( 822 )

        And don;t forget to put a price on convenience: instead of waiting 4-8 weeks for your new stuff, you get to take it home and use it right away

        This.

        When my girlfriend moved in, we needed some new furniture. The huge wardrobe took three weeks to be delivered, and then one more week to exchange an (important) part that was broken in transport.

        We both dislike IKEA a lot, but we went there to buy some dressers. Half of what they have on offer is trash and the other half ugly, but we went home with two pieces of the one dresser that's not a shame to have in your bedroom. Because we didn't want to have her clothes in luggage and bags waiting for furnitu

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        I got nothing but good things to say about the furniture I've bought from Ikea. I never buy anything costing more than 40 euros from there though - but you can deck out an apartment with that per item limit..

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I hate to promote them, as I love second hand shops and hate anything new or fashionable. But I am tall and they are the only place I could get a desk with adjustable height. Why doesn't everybody offer that???

    • on the topic of cleverness; my recently assembled Ikea Pax drawers have plastic nails in them. i'm glad my other furniture's manufacturer isn't that clever.

      while i was assembling those drawers, i had a 10 minute sitting down WTF moment, contemplating returning the whole shebang. then the wife came and made me finish it. :-(

  • by taylorius ( 221419 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @12:13PM (#49361455) Homepage

    "Designed to last for 3 years". Impressive, that's about a year longer than their normal furniture.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It would probably be sellable at an Ikea as well, to decrease costs through commercial sales

    I could see this as camping gear, DIY flatpack cabin, DIY garden guesthouse, flatpack survivalist supplies

    I wonder how it holds up under snow and monsoon, since places needing such shelters can have snowy winters (Japan Fukushima) or hurricanes (Haiti) and monsoons (Burma)

    • It would probably be sellable at an Ikea as well, to decrease costs through commercial sales

      I could see this as camping gear, DIY flatpack cabin, DIY garden guesthouse, flatpack survivalist supplies

      I wonder how it holds up under snow and monsoon, since places needing such shelters can have snowy winters (Japan Fukushima) or hurricanes (Haiti) and monsoons (Burma)

      There might actually be a real demand. A lot of places in the US have homeless "tent cities" where local homeless populations live, and there is definitely an effort to work to improve their lot.

      • A lot of places in the US have homeless "tent cities" where local homeless populations live

        Perfect, for the next "Occupy" demo crowd.

      • Depends on the price and how easy it is to modify. There's a (small) mobile shelter and enclosure market mainly for military and disaster relief already, and there's pre-fabricated buildings and sheds you can buy that go on concrete pads. The question is how much would this cost relative to those for the given mission. My guess is that housing displaced people for a long time is sufficiently different from what we tend to need in the US that the design choices made in these units make them less than the ide
      • A lot of places in the US have homeless "tent cities" where local homeless populations live

        These are almost all squatters on someone else's property, or on public land where overnight sleeping is not officially allowed. There would be strong objections to making these camps permanent. There are also practical reasons why it is a bad idea. Most homeless people are homeless for a reason. They have mental disorders, substance abuse problems, criminal records, etc. Concentrating them in one place, with policies that will attract even more to the same area, is going to cause a lot of problems. I

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would stick with an all canvas tent, breathable, mendable, durable, adaptable (any shape I need it to be), foldable into a very small package.

    This looks like one missing part and the whole thing wont work...just like their furniture.

  • Did they just make an easy to assemble shipping container?
    • by Rob Bos ( 3399 )

      Shipping containers are already shipped flatpack and assembled as needed.

    • by jiriw ( 444695 )

      Well ... it should weigh less than 100 KG (200 pounds?)... I don't know of any shipping containers that light. The smallest 'common' shipping container according to the wikipedia website (20') weighs at least 22 times as much. And it should handle heat/cold a lot better than a big metal box.

      To me it rather looks like other 'usual' temporary housing things. Those white houses they set up at big outdoor events. The only one that comes into mind close where I live, where I've seen them and an event with (quite

    • More from TFS:

      Logistically friendly and easy to build

      Better Shelter will arrive in two cardboard boxes which are packed in subsequent building order.
      The two boxes can be individually lifted by four people and contain an assembly instruction image manual, which lets you assemble the shelter, together with three other people in 4-8 hours.
      Better Shelter is built in three sub-sequential steps:

      Foundation
      Roof with ventilation and solar panel
      Walls with windows and door

      Better Shelter is optimized to meet the high volume production condiÂtions and flat pack logistic demands required to be cost efficient.

  • if you make the frame from wood, you lock up carbon. steel is a total waste of resources, also conducts lightning through the frame of the building.

    plastic is the worst possible choice for the panels, almost anything else is better, as long as it is reasonably fireproof.

    sometimes long life is a bad thing - plastic is damned hard to keep clean, and harbours disease - it would be far better if the panels were made of something local, cheap and recycleable, that needed to be replaced at least yearly.

    with a li

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Looks like it might make a nice temporary workshop or temporary garage structure as well.

    (Not a daily use garage, but the type of thing you could use for longer term storage / project cars, or even assemble/disassemble around a car if you had to.)

    Hopefully they make these available for purchase by the general public!

  • And tested in the Winter? Those windows are mighty small, I'll bet that thing is like an oven at night in most of the locations it might be used.

  • Given now successful they are (our local one is always busy, and packed on weekends) -- I don't get the hate. They make affordable things, with well-thought out space-saving designs, and I've had no problems with durability. From their kids' stuff, to kitchen items to storage units, we've made good use of IKEA in our home without spending a fortune like you would at say some overpriced places like Restoration Hardware (gag...)

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