17 – Open Source Homes


To meet the big challenges of the 21st century, we’re going to have to be much smarter about the way we design and build homes, and part of that means putting the knowledge & tools to build beautiful, sustainable homes into the hands of every business & citizen on earth.

Open Source Building
Instead of re-solving the same problems again and again, open source building technologies allow designers to work together to develop the best solutions which are then shared for all. But open source building isn’t just about publishing a set of house plans.  Often, open source building systems try to use widely available materials, such as earth bricks or sheet materials, as is the case with the OSE Microhouse, and Hexayurt.

The WikiHouse project combines this approach with digital manufacturing to make a kind of digital ‘lego’. Imagine low-cost, high-performance homes that can be locally manufactured and self-assembled, even by amateurs. It’s being developed by a growing global community of designers, engineers and coders.

WikiHouse FarmHouse-157 (1)


Open Source Vernaculars
The idea of open source building systems isn’t new. In fact it’s how we built most of our best, most beautiful homes throughout most of history, using local vernacular designs. 21st century tools are simply allowing us to rediscover those resilient models, where homes adapt to their place and user.

Open Source Smart Homes
Open source technologies will also let you control your home. Where many new ‘smart’ devices won’t speak to each other, OpenHAB is an open source operating system that lets all the components in your home speak to each other, whilst letting you own your private data.

Open Source Cities
Of course, houses themselves are just the most visible part of the underlying systems that shape and run our cities. What could it mean to imagine a truly open source city, where data is transparent and shared? Places planned, developed and improved by and for everyone? That should keep us busy for 2016.

All images above CC-BY WikiHouse Foundation
Image source Kai Kruzer, source unknown.

Author of this window: Alastair Parvin  // Twitter: @AlastairParvin