As the number of displaced people increases due to ongoing conflicts and natural disasters, a quality and sustainable refugee housing solution is essential. This modular home isn’t only a shelter, but is also a social business model aiming to improve the living conditions for some of the world’s most vulnerable groups.
The Syrian civil war has lead to the internal displacement of more than 7.6 million people, although it’s one of the most distressing global events, it’s only one of many issues adding to the astounding number of refugees around the world. With asylum seekers flowing into safer nations, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find adequate and sustainable accommodation in large camps. UNHCR studies have shown that the vast majority of refugees worldwide live in poverty, lacking even the most basic amenities like running water, heating and toilet facilities.

The Better Shelter Housing Unit offers safer and much more comfortable living for refugees – and can be produced in high volumes at very low cost. The classic flat-pack design keeps transportation affordable, and once delivered, the housing unit can be quickly and easily assembled. What makes the unit different from others is the modular design. Developed in conjunction with real users, the design respects the personal, social and cultural expectations of their potential inhabitants to improve their overall living conditions. In addition, it’s built to last much longer than the designs currently on the market making it a viable solution in most shifting contexts.

The housing unit is not only a groundbreaking solution to improve living conditions for refugees, but is also a social business. Through a cleverly designed process, the prices will be kept low to remain affordable for the growing number of refugees, and all the profits will be directly reinvested back into the design for more development and production.


  • Title: Better Shelter Housing Unit
  • External Link: Better Shelter Housing Unit - INDEX: Design to Improve Life® website
  • Sustainable Development Goals targeted: No Poverty, Reduced Inequalities
  • INDEX: Award Cycle: 2015
  • INDEX: Award Category: Home
  • Driver(s) of Change: Climate Change, Conflict Refugees, Drought, Famine, Religious and Ethnic Wars
  • Country of Design : Sweden

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