Refugee Housing Unit

  • Project Leader

    Johan Karlsson

  • Organisation

    Refugee Housing Unit

  • Designed By

    RHU Design Team

  • Project Location

    Sweden, Stockholm

  • Project website


  • Name of nominating Icsid Member organisation

    Australian International Design Awards

The Refugee housing Project is a two year long project to design a better refugee shelter, driven by belief that every child deserves a safe place to call home. One prototype that is currently under review is used and tested by refugees living in UNHCR refugees camps in Ethiopia.

The project is a unique collaboration between the Refugee Housing Unit (RHU – a subsidiary of the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) orchestrated by the IKEA Foundation. Testing in the field by refugees will inform a final shelter design, to ensure it offers dignified and secure housing for the millions of vulnerable refugee families fleeing war zones, natural disasters or areas of political unrest.

The shelters – simply called “Refugee Housing Units” (RHU) – give a longer-lasting alternative to currently-used refugee tents, which typically have a life span of only six months and are not always suitable for housing refugee families who can live in camps for over 12 years. Not only does these leave vulnerable families even more exposed to the challenges of life in a refugee camp, but it also presents a huge burden to the aid agencies and governments trying to create a more dignified life for the millions of people who have had to flee their own homes.