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Flat-pack refugee shelter is the best design of 2016

The winners of the annual Beazley Designs of the Year (opens in new tab) awards have been announced at London's Design Museum (opens in new tab), with the top prize going to a timely and inventive contribution towards the global issue of population displacement.

The Better Shelter (opens in new tab), developed by Johan Karlsson, Dennis Kanter, Christian Gustafsson, John van Leer, Tim de Haas, Nicolò Barlera, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR, is designed to be a safer and more dignified home for people who have been displaced due to conflict and natural disasters.

The innovative flat-pack design comes in a two-box kit that's easy to transport and comes with all the necessary tools, and it can be assembled in around four hours. It features a lockable front door and a solar-powered wall that provides enough energy to power the shelter's light or charge a mobile phone.

The Better Shelter is an innovative and smart flat-pack refuge

The Better Shelter is an innovative and smart flat-pack refuge

There are already 30,000 Better Shelters in use; the judges were impressed with the project as a clear demonstration of scalable design that has the ability to make a worldwide impact.

"Better Shelter tackles one of the defining issues of the moment: providing shelter in an exceptional situation whether caused by violence and disaster," says one of the judges, Dr Jana Scholze from Kingston University. "It shows the power of design to respond to the conditions we are in and transform them. Innovative, humanitarian and implemented, Better Shelter has everything that a Beazley Design of the Year should have."

See the Better Shelter and other winners at the Design Museum

See the Better Shelter and other winners at the Design Museum

The Better Shelter was chosen as overall winner after being selected as the winner of the Architecture category. Other category winners included Jonathan Barnbrook's iconic design for David Bowie's Blackstar album, Space Cup, a coffee cup for astronauts, and Lumos, a next-generation helmet with integrated lights and signals.

The six category winners along with the further 70 other nominations are on display at the Design Museum until 19 February; find out more here (opens in new tab).

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Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.