WikiHouse Commons

ORGANIZATION NAME: WikiHouse Foundation

LOCATION: United Kingdom

SUMMARY: WikiHouse is an open source building system. We are building a digital commons, where all designers, inventors & users collaborate to develop and share high-performance, low-cost, low-energy building solutions that are then owned by everyone. These solutions can be downloaded, locally ‘printed’ and self-assembled to make sustainable, resilient, affordable homes.

PROBLEM SPACE: “The future is already here, it just isn’t very distributed yet.” — Gibson

By 2050, 70% of the world’s 9 billion population will live in cities. Those cities will have to be built without dependence on fossil fuels.

We do have the solutions to meet this challenge, yet the top-down industrial systems we inherited are failing to diffuse and deploy them. Even the most sustainable technology is useless if locked behind a proprietary licence, or prohibitively expensive to produce and distribute. This is especially the case in housing, where design industries expensively re-solve the same problems again and again, while reaching only 2% of the built environment. Since the industrial revolution, we have been dependent on centralised, top-down models of design and production of mass-housing: unsustainable, undemocratic and debt-heavy.

“It is easier to ship recipes than cakes and biscuits.” — Keynes

In the last decade, the web transformed our information economy, from centralised to decentralised (eg Wikipedia). In the next, it could transform our industrial economy. Open design means no problem ever needs to be solved twice. Digital manufacturing puts distributed factory power into the hands of citizens and communities. Share global, print local. What does that mean for homes and neighbourhoods?”

SOLUTION: “Most people’s first encounter with the WikiHouse project is with the open source hardware solutions it produces. The first building technology in the system is a LEGO-like building system that can be shared online as code, uniquely adapted to its site and user, and then locally manufactured using a CNC machine costing $2000 or less. The parts are cut from standard, widely available, low-carbon sheet materials, resulting in a kit that can be assembled like a large IKEA kit. This can be built in days, even by amateurs, but provides a level of energy performance (eg: Passivhaus) which is, at present, prohibitively expensive. This initial technology is now being joined by a growing range of compatible kit solutions; for example a 3D-printed heat recovery ventilator, which can be locally manufactured with recycled materials for Σ24, but matches the performance of its Σ200 industry equivalents.

But, the deepest innovations of the WikiHouse project are not the products themselves, but the processes behind them: the operating principles, platform and protocols that allow these solutions to be shared online, then replicated and improved by an open community of designers, inventors and makers. Our proposed project initiative is to develop this digital commons.”

CONTACT: [email protected]