Ikea Wins Award For Designing Refugee Shelters in Norway

Nothing is more natural than wanting to have a safe place we can call home. What about those fleeing from a war torn country like Syria? A stimulating environment, a safe and clean place for children to grow up and play is utmost important to any parent. Just like it is said in the IKEA tagline: “Home is the most important place in the world”. The company never stops living the vision that they have.

In 2014, IKEA donated thousands of IKEA flat pack refugee homes to the Syrians that were forced to flee from their country, looking for asylum to start their life all over again. They partnered up the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). It was a great success!

After two years of continuing to help the refugees, IKEA is running a fundraising and awareness effort in collaboration with the Norwegian Red Cross. In an IKEA store in Norway, they built a small 25 square meter home with naked walls, displaying the way of living of the refugees with pictures and tags telling stories of the refugees.

The home displayed in IKEA was an example of the house of a Syrian mother named Rana and  her four children. This effort was meant to give customers a glance into the life of the Syrian family. It tells a small part of the story how life can be in the middle of the civil war in Syria.

“We realized we could give Norwegians that experience at IKEA. At the one place where you think of and plan the future, the apartment served as a physical reminder of how lucky we are,” Maja Folgero, one of the campaign’s creators says.

Folgero added: “People who fled from war zones came up to us and said ‘This is how it feels. I remember this.’” They felt this project was a success based on the feedback they received from the visitors.

As IKEA works on designing products for a better living that fit every family, their design for the flatpack refugee shelter caught a lot of attention too. As a result, they won two Beazley Design Awards out of its six categories. The Beazley Design recognized the most original and exciting design across the globe and IKEA has successfully won two of its categories: the Beazley Design of the Year and Beazley Architecture Design of the Year.

Interim managing director of Better Shelter Program, Johan Karlsson, said to the Independent that he was “incredibly proud” to have won both awards.

“We are above all pleased that this prize brings attention to our hard work, and as a result, the refugee situation as a whole. We accept this award with mixed emotions – while we are pleased that this kind of design is honored, we are aware that it has been developed in response to the humanitarian needs that have arisen as the result of the refugee crisis.”

These refugee shelters created by IKEA won’t replace the home the refugees have lost, but they have definitely provided a proper shelter for their families to survive temporarily. More and more help has been extended to refugees such as Rana and her four children. An acknowledgement like this award will indirectly create an awareness to the public on how important it is to lend a helping hand and to be more gratitude for having what this refugees has lost.

Written by Hanna Lockman

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Describe by friends as a loving, bubbly, poetic soul, traveller and smiley person. She loves inspirational stories and to inspire others. A bookworm and especially enjoy reading old books collected by her father. Consistent learner of the religion she believe in, islam. Active volunteer with various NGO and a founder of islamic apparel in Malaysia