Architect pitches builder-bothering 'Print your own house' plan
Open source DIY domicile project to 'do for building what Linux did for software'
WikiHouse, the "print your own open source pad" project, has called for contributors and cash to help it establish an online archive of downloadable dwelling designs.
The site’s aim is nothing short of the democratisation of the construction industry: to allow, in short, “anyone to design, download and 'print' CNC-milled houses and components which can be assembled with minimal formal skill or training," according to British architect and WikiHouse co-founder Alastair Parvin.
Build it and they will come
Find your favourite design, download the Creative Commons-licensed designs and send them to a convenient computer-controlled plywood sheet cutting machine. The designs are intended to be sliced from standard 2.4 x 1.2m sheets of 18mm thick plywood. The cut parts have been designed so it’s clear how they can be slotted together and then bolted up for a secure join.
“You can effectively 'print out' a kit of parts using a conventional sheet material like structural plywood, and those parts are assembled very simply without the need for traditional construction skills or power tools. It’s done using wedge and peg connections using mallets which are themselves part of the printed kit,” said Parvin.
Think of it as an Ikea kitchen writ large but with less bamboozling instructions and no small pack of bolts and Allen keys.
Raised in sections, the house can be assembled by two or three people in a day, claimed Parvin.
“What you end up with is the basic chassis of a house onto which can be applied windows, wiring, insulation and skin,” he added.
The WikiHouse community has been prototyping the the scheme for more than 18 months, and is now seeking new participants to help make its design software easier to use, to grow the number of house plans it offers, to improve those blueprints, and - crucially - to get out there and start building the darn things.
To that end, WikiHouse also wants contributors to pump cash into a fund to establish construction projects around the world, from earthquake-smashed Christchurch, New Zealand to the favelas of Rio de Janiero to... er... Chelmsford.
1,200 pieces... for ages 7 and upwards
“In our present industrial economy, we design things in the West, send the blueprints halfway round the world to be manufactured in a sweatshop for cheap labour costs and then ship the products all way back again,” said Parvin. “We’re moving into a future where the factory is potentially everywhere, where if you want something, you no longer necessarily have to buy it, you can download it, adapt it and print it out in your home or your community.
“If the factory is everywhere, the design team is everyone, one size no longer fits all. It gives us the opportunity to do for design what Linux does for software, to open it up.” ®
Re: Including fifteen different building codes? Hostile contractors?
Not to mention Linus popping round to swear at you over your choice of roof.
Re: do for building what Linux did for software
Will slowly over time take control of the mobile home world?
Apologies, that was bad.
Re: do for building what Linux did for software
I want my house with windows, but then Eadon will turn up ranting.
Great fun, but impracticable ...
Many regions of the world are wood-adverse.
Take the Asian Longhorned Beetle is a large wood-boring insect native to China, it will chow down on any wood remotely soft. Now, thanks to softwood pallets there are large colonies in the USA, Canada, Europe and elsewhere.
The only answer to these pests are hard-wood or concrete.
Then there is the bureaucracy. They are the architects friends who seem to have but a single purpose in life - to generate business for architects. Then there is the construction trade who think everything but everything is beyond the intending home building plebs. Seemingly only the building trade can employ unskilled labour and produce a building.
Unfortunately, these designs in wood are impracticable for my part of the world, well entrenched as it is with Asian Longhorned Beetle, so we create in concrete. I have constructed three buildings, now, one being my home and the other two what government calls 'mini-hotels' (which have over thirty rooms each.
Being a pleb builder, I studied very hard. I did unusual things such as making all 'techno-structure' (pipes, wires, etc) accessible with the minimal of bashing concrete - unlike professional builders who bury all such infrastructure under mounds of concrete. I used insulating concrete forms (ICFs), factory made rebar forms, welded window inserts into which windows (or doors) can fit knowing the frame is dead square.
Even crazier, according to the local 'construction experts' was my use of large-diameter plastic pipes as concrete forms instead of using tatty-looking things made from wood and nails. I simply split piping longitudinally and used packing bands to hold them together whilst the concrete dried. Strangely several 'professional;' builders are now copying my technique in the area.
My first mini-hotel used containers (surplus or 'hot' units costing me USD$300-400 delivered) and it took an engineer to explain to the planners that a container will support many, many times their weight and that my height of five-seven containers wasn't a challenge.
I wish Wikihouse every success, however I fear they will best succeed in places such as Africa for 'advanced' countries throw up to many obstacles to make this practical. I must admit, there are many authorities in Canada, outside the larger cities, who will happily accept DIY home plans, and offer technical help in making the plans meet 'code'.
Including fifteen different building codes? Hostile contractors?
Open source DIY domicile project to 'do for building what Linux did for software
(OK, perfectly fine article if not for this secondary headline. Venting speen in 3... 2... 1...)
So now I'll have to choose which distro of house I want before I can build it, there will be inter-distro feuding over building codes, and crowdsourced contractors consisting of a mix of maybe friendly and mostly hostile geeks, each deriding each others' designs.
"No one builds a wall with studs sixteen inches on-centre anymore."
The paranoid ones will use "NSA House" like they use NSA Linux, only to later speculate about gaping holes in the walls. There might not be any holes, and it might be the strongest house you could build, but who would trust it?
Who am I kidding? If Microsoft made a house, people would complain about the door locks. Come to think of it, my wife would complain about the door locks and not use them, and then she'd wonder why the TV was stolen.