The rollout of thousands of Ikea’s award-winning Better Shelter refugee homes has been halted until the flat-pack abodes can be redesigned to address a range of quality issues and design flaws, according to Dezeen. Though none of the concerns appear to be dangerous enough for a recall, deployment is on hold and the goal is to launch a redesigned version later this year.
Major concerns included the need to improve ventilation and lighting and to update the shelter’s spacing requirements to reduce fire risk. In an interview with Dezeen, a refugee consultant also cites narrow, inaccessible doorway, long assembly time, and lack of adaptability as additional issues.
“It takes four hours to assemble, it doesn’t have a groundsheet and it’s not modular as it should be,” said Killian Kleinschmidt. “There have been complaints about the wind going through. It doesn’t take into consideration that people like to adjust the space themselves and that is part of their dignity.”
After learning about the issues, Better Shelter embarked on an “intensive” research effort with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to plan improvements. In addition to improving the vents, roof, and lighting, the shelter’s frames and wall panels will also be made stronger and easier to produce.
“The wellbeing of our end-users comes first and in case of any uncertainties around the shelter’s performance, we are committed to addressing those immediately,” said Märta Terne, Ikea’s head of marketing.
“The shelters currently in stock are now in the pipeline for redeployment to various UNHCR operations. Meanwhile, we are finishing off the development work on the updated shelter version of which new order figures will be determined in due course.”