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Better Shelter units in Kara Tepe transit site, Mytilene, Lesvos, Mar 2016 | © Märta Terne
Better Shelter units in Kara Tepe transit site, Mytilene, Lesvos, Mar 2016 | © Märta Terne
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Good Design Prevails as Flat-Packed Refugee Shelter Wins Beazley Design of the Year

Picture of Charlotte Luxford
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 25 January 2017
Social enterprise ‘Better Shelter’ has been crowned ‘Beazley Design of the Year’, demonstrating how innovative scalable design has the ability to make a huge worldwide impact. The awards ceremony, now in its ninth year, was held at the Design Museum’s new home in London.
The winning designs, plus 70 other nominees, are on display in the Design Museum, London | © Luke Hayes
The winning designs, plus 70 other nominees, are on display in the Design Museum, London | © Luke Hayes

The flat-packed shelter, designed by Johan Karlsson, Dennis Kanter, Christian Gustafsson, John van Leer, Tim de Haas, Nicolò Barlera, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR, joins previous winners including the London 2012 Olympic Torch and the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster.

Better Shelter units in Kara Tepe transit site, Mytilene, Lesvos, Mar 2016 | © Märta Terne
Better Shelter units in Kara Tepe transit site, Mytilene, Lesvos, Mar 2016 | © Märta Terne

The project aims to provide safer, more dignified homes for those who have been displaced due conflict and natural disasters, with 30,000 shelters already in use around the world.

Created in collaboration with the king of flat-pack design, IKEA, the shelter utilises similar technology used in furniture design for easy assembly and transportation. Packed up in a simple two-box kit with all the tools, the shelters can be put up in just four hours.

The Better Shelter unit | © Jonas Nyström
‘The Better Shelter’ unit | © Jonas Nyström

The homes feature a lockable front door and a solar-powered wall; the photovoltaic panel provides enough energy to power the supplied light and charge a mobile phone.

Selected as the winner of the Architecture category, the Better Shelter pipped the five other category winners to claim the overall prize. OpenSurgery won the Digital prize for its ‘Robotic Surgeon’; ‘Children vs. Fashion’ was awarded the Fashion prize for a video exploring children’s uninhibited thoughts on fashion advertising; David Bowie’s Blackstar album cover took the Graphics award; the ‘Space Cup’ used by astronauts was announced best Product, while ‘Lumos’, the world’s first smart bicycle helmet with integrated light signals, was crowned winner of the Transport category.

The 'Lumos' bike helmet, winner of the Transport category | © Luke Hayes
The ‘Lumos’ bike helmet, winner of the Transport category | © Luke Hayes

The six category winners, along with the 70 other nominations, are on display at the Design Museum until 19 February.

The exhibition is held in the recently renovated Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington, London | © Luke Hayes
The exhibition is held in the recently renovated Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington, London | © Luke Hayes