A home away from home

Better Shelter is a social enterprise that develops and provides innovative housing solutions for persons displaced by armed conflicts and natural disasters.

  • Photographer: © UNHCR/Brian Sokol

A home away from home

Our vision is a world in which all people have a safe place to call home.

Our mission is to improve the lives of persons displaced by armed conflicts and natural disasters. We aim to be the leader in emergency and temporary shelter innovation and strive to provide a safer, more dignified home away from home for millions of displaced persons.

A Better Shelter

For many million refugees living in camps or temporary settlements, a tent is the only home they have. Imagine existing in a never-ending world of insecurity and chaos where your life is on hold. You have had to leave your own home, your routines and your everyday life behind. Now, all around are 25,000 other people just like you, packed so tightly you can hear every conversation, every argument, and every crying child. Sanitary conditions are poor. Disease is rife. You and your family are hungry and have very little opportunity to find work or to earn money. As a woman you feel unsafe and you have no way of knowing if this misery will last days, weeks or years. Add to this your traumatic memories of violence and war, which will haunt you forever.

For the millions of people living in tented refugee camps around the world, this is reality. This is life.

The simple fact of having a home, a right so fundamental most of us take it for granted, can dramatically improve the physical and psychological situation of refugees.

The Better Shelter meets the basic needs for the activities of basic living, for privacy, security and familiarity. It is a safe base offering a sense of peace, identity and dignity. And though it may be humble, it is somewhere even the most vulnerable people on earth can call a home away from home.

Tents, most common form or shelter used in emergency relief, are good as a rapid response: with tents relief actors can provide a roof over people’s heads very quickly in the aftermath of a disaster. But while even the strongest tent will only last a matter of months, refugees often spend several years – even generations – in camps.

The Better Shelter is designed to last for at least three years, and is suitable for situations where local materials or construction workers are in short supply. The Better Shelter does not cause deforestation, as may be the case when using local materials for shelter in large settlements or when the supply of materials is scarce.

  • Photographer: Better Shelter

Our Story


Better Shelter began in 2010 as a small design and innovation project based in Hällefors, Sweden, driven by the belief that sustainable design can make a difference to humanitarian relief.

Forging ground-breaking partnerships with UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation, Better Shelter began to develop ideas and designs for new shelter solutions. Working with designers, engineers, companies and institutions it created prototypes which were tested and further developed using the insights and experiences of refugees in Ethiopia and Iraq.

Better Shelter aims to be the leader in emergency and temporary shelter innovation, and continues to develop its products together with its partners, customers and, most importantly, the people who live in its shelters, collecting invaluable feedback that will make future models even better.

UNHCR signed an initial frame agreement of 30,000 shelters in 2015. Today, thousands of Better Shelters are acting as temporary homes, registration centres, medical facilities and food distribution points in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.


Better Shelter provides assembly training and support to help its partners use their resources efficiently to provide displaced people with shelter as quickly as possible during or after a humanitarian emergency.

As a social enterprise, Better Shelter strives to create a safer, more dignified home away from home for millions of displaced people across the world through smart design, innovation and modern technology. With and for refugees.

  • Photographer: Better Shelter

  • Photographer: Better Shelter

Capacity building

Better Shelter offers training and support to ensure safe and effective assembly of our shelters both before and during implementation. We support our partners in increasing their capacity and optimise their available resources, in order to ensure as many people as possible get the shelter they need, as quickly as possible.

Working side by side with our partners around the world also gives us the valuable opportunity to monitor quality, understand our partners’ shelter requirements in their humanitarian programs and to both gather and offer feedback on the assembly and use of our shelters.

Assembly of one shelter requires minimum 4 persons for a safe and correct completed assembly. Experienced teams can find efficient ways of building multiple shelters at once, for example by assembling the foundations and roofs simultaneously, and by visually inspecting the foundation and panel alignments during assembly.

By supporting our partners in quickly, efficiently and correctly setting up our shelters, we help the humanitarian community maximise its potential to offer shelter to displaced people fleeing conflict and natural disasters.

For more information about our services, please contact us.

Corporate Structure

Better Shelter is a social enterprise. Every dollar we generate in profit is reinvested within our company or distributed to our philanthropic owner, the Housing for All Foundation.

The Housing for All Foundation was established by the IKEA Foundation.

Better Shelter is a strategic partner of the IKEA Foundation and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

  • Photographer: UNHCR