"The Folk House" by Adam Hatvani and Tibor Dekany, SPORA architects. Crédit : Image courtesy of Paperhouses

WikiHouse: an open source construction set

What if we applied the open source philosophy and the free software economy to architecture? The blueprints of buildings – like open-source code – would be available for everyone to use.

Some architects are happy to share their work, free of charge, to give everyone the chance to build their own eco-friendly, money-saving home. It’s called open-source architecture, and may be on its way to revolutionizing the building sector.

Launched in 2011, the WikiHouse project is an internet-based house construction set. Anyone can choose a blueprint, download it and adapt it to their needs, then share their own model. Once the plans have been finalized, a CNC mill cuts out the parts using locally-sourced materials. The house is built in about a day and only costs the price of the raw materials and tools.

For Alastair Parvin, one of the founders of WikiHouse, the 21st century should provide regular citizens with the opportunity to design and build their own houses. His project reflects a new approach by younger architects to the social issues raised by their work. How can architecture do the greatest good for the greatest number?

WikiHouse interview with Alastair Parvin

Although WikiHouse is still in the experimental stage, it has already encouraged others to follow suit. FOUNDhouse is the prototype for a 15-square-meter DIY mobile microhouse designed by Patrick Beseda and Lacy Williams. The two designers believe in a “small lifestyle” that turns its back on consumerism. At the other end of the spectrum, Paperhouses, a website run by architect Joana Pacheco, offers free downloadable blueprints of homes designed by world-class architectural firms. It even makes available a list of building professionals available to turn the designs into reality.

Open-source architecture can also meet some of the specific needs of disadvantaged groups. In 2012, Alastair Parvin won a prize for WikiHouseRio, a Brazilian design laboratory that makes a CNC mill available to the residents of favelas. Alastair hopes to set up similar spaces across the world.

Open-source architecture favors decentralized production (of goods rather than energy) and a new kind of “low-carbon economy”. Two concepts that are giving wings to the third industrial revolution predicted by Jeremy Rifkin...

> Learn more:

Could the DIY WikiHouse usher in a new age of architectural innovation?




Main picture: "The Folk House" by Adam Hatvani and Tibor Dekany, SPORA architects. Crédit : Image courtesy of Paperhouses

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