My name is Bengt Löfgren. I have been working as a University teacher in product engineering and manufacturing for many years and are also a specialist in sheet metal technology.

Some years back I started working on and designing a project together with IKEA Refugee Housing Units, Swedish steel manufacturer SSAB and my previous employer Triple Steelix resulting in the refugee tent now known as IKEA Better Shelters.

Read more about the project here:


Comments: 21 • Responses: 7  • Date: 

toomanybeersies4 karma

Just looking at the shelters, they look like they would heat up a lot in the African sun.

Is there anything in the design to stop this?

Also, what is the expected lifetime of one of these shelters?

bengtlofgren3 karma


We have 25 in Etiopia. There it is an extra roof about one foot over the other. The women did another thing. They poured water over the floor and when it dried it took heat from the room.

Iglum4 karma

Will "Better shelters" be available for the public to buy?

bengtlofgren6 karma


Nice you are interested.

IKEA will only sell and distribute for refugee purpose.

We have a deal that I may sell to private market. It is just in the start up so I m checking how big the market can be. We are working with ultra high strength steel so only some steel plant can produce the pipes and connectors.

It can be used as garage, storage, stables etc. You can cover the frame with heavy fabrics, board, plastic, sheet metal.


zacmasters3 karma

What was the driving purpose behind making these houses? Did trying to find a new market for profit spark the initial design, or was this only about how Ikea could help refugees?

bengtlofgren3 karma


IKEA is the second biggest supporter for UNHCR in the world. They have IKEA Foundation and within there it a four different projects, housing, water, waste, energy. IKEA try to help refugees in all different ways.


arabica_coffee2 karma

Hi Bengt. My main question is how did you get started with that project?

Did Ikea come to you or were you part of a group who came to Ikea with the proposal?

bengtlofgren4 karma


Nice you are interested.

It was a product design course at a university in a neighboring city who worked for IKEA. They had been developing refugee houses but hadn't found a good concept.

The company I was employed in got a request if we could support and I got the project.


arabica_coffee1 karma

Very nice!

From what I saw they looked amazingly designed. I really hope that it helps a lot of people :)

bengtlofgren1 karma

Hello they are fully modulized so you can make them longer and wider. It is also the same pipes everywhere except at the door and the same connecting part.

graskop2 karma

how does one go about designing a refugee shelter? what was the target budget per unit?

bengtlofgren2 karma


Target budget is secret. We got figures that every person shall have 3,5 m2 and a standard family is 5 persons. The first family that moved in was 19 persons. One man his four wifes and children, cousins and so on.

TheOliphant1 karma

Thank you for the important work that you are doing!

How do you keep your structures cool in hot arid environments, such as refugee camps in Ethiopia or South Sudan? Is it more important to insulate the roof of a structure or provide adequate ventilation?

bengtlofgren1 karma


We have an extra roof about one foot over the other. Those who lives ther they poor water on the floor every morning and when it dryes it take the heat from the room.