Sustainable Energy

Solar powered shelter wins design award

Better Shelter

An emergency shelter that uses solar power has won both the Architecture award and 2017 Grand Prize at the Beazley Designs of the Year awards.

A temporary, weatherproof structure, the Better Shelter has been designed for use by people displaced by conflict and natural disasters. The IKEA Foundation and the UNHCR -- the UN Refugee Agency -- were involved in the Better Shelter's development.

The issue of displaced people is an increasingly serious one. In June 2016, the UNHCR said that a total of 65.3 million people had been displaced at the end of 2015.

Solar power is integral to the Better Shelter's design, with a panel installed in its roof. The panel charges an LED light within the shelter, which can be used for four hours during the night when fully charged. Mobile phones can also be charged via a USB connection in the lamp.

Praising the Better Shelter design after its award last week, judge Jana Scholze, from Kingston University, said that it tackled "one of the defining issues of the moment: providing shelter in an exceptional situation whether caused by violence and disaster."

"Providing not only a design but secure manufacture as well as distribution makes this project relevant and even optimistic," Scholze went on to add. "It shows the power of design to respond to the conditions we are in and transform them."

According to its makers, over 10,000 Better Shelter units were delivered to humanitarian operations in 2015.

"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," Johan Karlsson, Better Shelter's interim managing director, said in a statement.