Better Shelter -- our views

On January 27, Olly Wainwright wrote a review in the Guardian about the Better Shelter from the IKEA Foundation.  He outlined that the initiative had recently been awarded the Beazley design of the year 2016 by the London Design Museum.

Better Shelter Raising -- Edinburgh

One month earlier, on Dec 16, we had our initial research team gathering for Displaced Energy and we thought it might be a nice idea, as an attempt to better understand aspects of being displaced, to construct a shelter in Central Edinburgh.  We procured the Better Shelter from the IKEA Foundation, although our circumstances are significantly different from truly displaced populations.   With this in mind, our aim in conducting this exercise allowed us three purposes:

  1. we wanted a team building exercise to launch the project
  2. we wanted to interrogate some aspect of refugee life, within reach.  Much good designing is about understanding experiences of users -- so we wanted to know what it was really like to have to manage and assemble this shelter
  3. again, as experience, what was it like being in the shelter?  We set ourselves a deadline to have it constructed in time to conduct a book launch for Design Anthropological Futures later that evening. This also allowed us to make full use of the solar lighting equipment provided.

So how did we get on?  

  • The instructions stated the shelter should be able to be raised by 4 adults in 4 hours; this wasn't achieved.  It took more than 4 of us, almost 2 days to get the job done.
  • The assembly was straightforward, if not challenging.  There are a lot of parts to keep track of.  And the instructions, true to IKEA format, were ambiguous in places.  We likely lost many of the parts.  But the tools were much more robust than the standard allan wrenches normally provided
  • Edinburgh is wet, and cold!  The images in Olly Wainwrights article show the shelters in Lesbos, replete with sunshine.  Watch day two of our video on Vimeo to see the rainy, grey and cold assembly in Edinburgh.