WikiHouse

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= created a blueprint that would allow everyday people to build their own homes using open sourced designs and locally sourced materials

URL = http://www.wikihouse.cc/ [1]


Definition

By the founder, Alastair Parvin:

"The Wikihouse project is an Open Source Construction Set, to allow anyone to design, download, and print CNC-milled houses and components, which can be assembled with minimal formal skill or training” (http://www.open-electronics.org/ten-open-source-hardware-and-design-projects-setting-new-standards/)


Description

1. By Harry Knight (WikiHouse Foundation):

"Cities are struggling to meet the housing needs of an urbanising society, while also focusing on the environmental and economic resilience of their community. WikiHouse is an open-source building project that is working to make it much simpler for anyone to design, manufacture, and assemble beautiful and sustainable homes that are suited to their needs. The goal is to help cities shift from a reliance on a centralized industrial economy to a more distributed, democratic, and scalable industry. It is a way to give citizens and communities the tools to produce, procure, and operate sustainable and affordable homes themselves.

Through many contributions and innovations, the WikiHouse community created an open and shareable building system called “Wren.” It was used to build their first home in the English midlands. They hope to expand and build upon this first phase by creating a platform that will enable homeowners, small businesses, and others to work collectively to fabricate and build homes where they are needed most." (http://www.shareable.net/sites/default/files/SharingCities_FullBooktoPDF_v2%281%29.pdf)


2. Original description at launch:

"WikiHouse is a contribution to the debate on Open Hardware and Open Design by 00:/, Momentum Engineering, Espians, Beatrice Galilee... and a global community of designers, including YOU!


WikiHouse will be shared via a Creative Commons license for anyone to adapt and improve. A WikiHouse is fabricated from locally sourced plywood cut on a CNC mill from openly shared template files, and assembled with minimal skill by local people.


The first WikiHouse will be constructed in South Korea at the Gwangju Design Biennale 2011. We are now looking for architects, furniture designers, product designers, and craftsmen from around the world who are interested in contributing to the WikiHouse process. If that's you then please drop us an line on [email protected]!" (http://www.wikihouse.cc/about.php)


Characteristics

DIDIY:

Community

Designs are published in the gallery at the website, with the source files at the project’s gitHub repository: https://github.com/wikihouseproject.


Licensing

Designs are generally published with CC BY SA license, as stated in their website’s disclaimer and for several projects in their github account: https://github.com/wikihouseproject. The WREN project is under the Mozilla Public License." (http://www.didiy.eu/public/deliverables/didiy-d6.3-1.0-pub.pdf)


Governance

• The project is owned by the WikiHouse Foundation, a UK registered non-profit.

• The project’s designs can be replicated and modified freely.


The Constitution poster is at http://www.wikihouse.cc/static/doc/de9c4224c124733ccd737604f9c0a1a6dc9fe9d4-Constitution_draft_v3.pdf

"The community means anyone who uses, adapts or co-develops WikiHouse products and tools, or anyone who follows or leads the project. Anyone can be part of it, there is no formal membership or ‘edge’ to the community.

Starting a WikiHouse Chapter: Only the WikiHouse trademark and name are controlled. WikiHouse has an open licensing model, a bit like a TEDx, but without a TED. Any team of 2+ people who want to found a WikiHouse chapter can sign a copy of the trademark license agreement on page 3 of this document, and email it to [email protected]

WikiHouse.cc is Not For Profit: Three Basic Rules

1 There is no ownership of WikiHouse.cc or debt to or from it. It cannot be sold.

2 Whoever raises funding decides how to invest it.

3 Any projects to be crowdfunded through the platform are listed, costed and the allocation of the funds agreed before they are posted.

Amend this constitution!

This is the first version of the constitution, drafted by the lead founders. If you think part of it should be changed, something should be added, or part of it represents - for you - a barrier to participation, please propose a change in the WikiHouse community space.

There is, as yet, no democratic process around this, but please feel free to suggest one." (http://www.wikihouse.cc/static/doc/de9c4224c124733ccd737604f9c0a1a6dc9fe9d4-Constitution_draft_v3.pdf)


Trademark Conditions

"In signing this Trademark License agreement, we declare the following.

We share the broad common purpose of Wikihouse as a collaborative project: to develop an open source construction system, and afford to as many people as possible the capability to design, download, adapt, build and use high-performance products which are suited to their needs.

Enter the chapter name you’d like to use WikiHouse chapters are named after their geographical location, and take the form of a 2-3 letter abbreviation. e.g WikiHouseFR for France, or WikiHouseRIO for Rio.

If a chapter already exists under the name you want to use, take a more local name, perhaps even a streetname.

1 Autonomy

We can operate however we like and we own what we do, but we choose to share our work and place it into the commons in perpetuity. We do not owe WikiHouse anything, and WikiHouse does not owe anything to us.


2 Share

We agree to share as much as possible of our work with the world, under the CC0 license. We will aim to share our work as soon as we reasonably can in compact, standardised and accessible formats.


3 Make shareable

We aim to design high-performance solutions which are, as far as possible, conciously focused on replicability, shareability and low thresholds of time, cost and skill.

4 Transparency

We aim to be as transparent as we can be within the limitations of time and money, and to always report honestly on our work and funding. We promise to always be honest about the limitations of our products.


5 Commercial but not Speculative

We will not use WikiHouse to mass produce houses whose primary function is as a speculative real-estate asset, rather than as a place to live. Either:

- 1 We are making a house for ourselves to use.

- 2 We are a for-profit or non-profit company who afford end-users control over the design and cost of their home.

- 3 We are a non-profit organisation making houses for unknown users.

- 4 We are a for-profit company making houses for unknown users but are building no more than 5 houses per year.


6 Sustainability

We aim to design as far as possible for materials and components which are low-carbon and fully recyclable or biodegradable, and to prioritise technologies which conserve water and energy.


7 Make healthy + safe

We aim to design products which are as safe and healthy as possible to construct, use, maintain and disassemble.


8 Authorship

We are the authors of our own work, and will give credit whenever we practically can to the work and contributions of others in the WikiHouse community.


9 Competition

We are free to compete commercially with other members of the WikiHouse community within the terms of this agreement, however we will always seek to make that competition collaborative, open and fair, and to avoid monopoly


10 Complaints & Disputes

We will seek to resolve all complaints or disputes within the community directly with the person involved or by emailing [email protected], and then by mediation before arbitration, rather than by taking legal action.


11 Liability Waiver

We recognise that we carry total responsibility for our own actions and projects, including meeting all legal, insurance and statutory requirements relevant to our jurisdiction. We agree to exercise appropriate caution when engaging in WikiHouse projects. Neither WikiHouse nor other members of the WikiHouse community are in any way liable for any harm or loss resulting from our project.


12 Use of this trademark license

This license gives us the right to operate under a WikiHouse chapter name, and to describe ourselves as part of the wider WikiHouse project. It is ours on a ‘keep it for as long as we are using it’ basis.


This agreement only applies to...

Anyone can use and share WikiHouse hardware and software however they like under the terms of the CC0 license. This trademark agreement only applies to teams who would like to adopt the WikiHouse name / trademark as a WikiHouse chapter."

(http://www.wikihouse.cc/static/doc/de9c4224c124733ccd737604f9c0a1a6dc9fe9d4-Constitution_draft_v3.pdf)


Business Model

DIDIY:

Revenue models

• Membership fees for consortium Members, Partners and Core Partners: resp. 1000, 25.000 and 50.000 GBP annually. • Donations. • Grants. • Pilot projects.


Modes of production Local production of pilot project with the help of makerspaces." (http://www.didiy.eu/public/deliverables/didiy-d6.3-1.0-pub.pdf)

Interview

Interview conducted of Alastair Parvin by Open Electronics:

"[OpenElectronics] Is Wikihouse a demonstrative project or you really want to build a marketable alternative? In this case, are you already aware if this is going to be cheaper or more functional with respect to traditional building techniques.

[Alastair Parvin] Yes, of course. We wouldn’t be interested in it if we didn’t think it had substantive potential to be disruptive. Of course it began as – just that – an experiment, a concept, and it’s slowly working through prototype towards becoming a reality. Fundamentally, WikiHouse will only be disruptive inasmuch as it is able to lower practical thresholds of times, cost, difficulty and carbon in getting access to better quality housing. But that equation isn’t straightforward for three reasons. First, because the cost of getting access to CNC machines, which is coming down, but still has an associated cost, and second, because of the cost of materials. So we know that WikiHouses are rapid to build, fairly easy to build, and we’re pretty confident about the performance of them. In areas where cost of Labour outweighs cost of materials (US, UK, Europe etc) then we’re pretty sure WikiHouse is going to be very affordable, because it enables you to do the work for yourself (to invest “sweat-equity” – but with less sweat!). We’re currently working on the first full, lived-in house types and that looks like it’s coming in somewhere near £600/m2. That’s an estimate. Hopefully we can keep working that down.

The third big thing of course is about getting access to land, which is part of the broader ‘Right to Build’ project. Our ambition is to use WikiHouse as a platform to design new development models which, again, make it much easier for landowners to consider releasing land for legitimate user (citizen) -led neighbourhood development models.


wikihouse_house


[OpenElectronics] Are you experimenting with new materials other than Plywood and with other constructive challenges such as energy, insulation, water harvesting, etc..? Is the community active on this topic?

[Alastair Parvin] Yes. Of course the end destination of WikiHouse should be to use the same set of design principles to develop a range of technologies, from earth construction etc. We’re only working with Plywood now because it’s a disruption we can make now (you’ve got to start somewhere). The next step will be to look at sheet materials using (for example) reprocessed plastics. We’re connecting with, and there are lots of people in the WikiHouse community interested in all kinds of technologies, economies, locations and problems, and hopefully increasingly connecting up with other open projects developing, for example open off-grid energy products etc. One product we’re working on is high-energy windows (which might seem mundane but might actually be more useful than houses!). It’s a big open challenge, so if someone is working on those things, or looking for a project, there’s huge potential in starting an open project to develop those things. That said, the capacity of the WikiHouse platform to support that sharing and collaboration is hugely limited at present. (We use google groups, which is a bit like collaborating in the 1990s! Others are using facebook, whilst some, quite understandably, feel uncomfortable about doing that). We’re currently trying to get some funding to build a much more open, accessible wiki, which can practically work to support 3D hardware. This is something which, for example, Open Tech Forever are doing awesome work on.


[OpenElectronics] What kind of reception among the construction industry? Did you try to confront with them?

[Alastair Parvin] Generally it really doesn’t need to be that confrontational. Sure, I think most of the construction industry will broadly ignore it, but others have been incredibly open and interested in working on projects. Almost everyone in construction knows there’s a need for innovation! There’s a general myth that developers are the ‘bad guys’; to quite self-build expert Stephen Hill “We need to stop beating them around the head for not doing something they’re not designed to do, and find someone who is”.


00[OpenElectronics] What kind of funding is actually making possible for you to work on Wikihouse project?

[Alastair Parvin] Obviously the large majority so far has been volunteered time by ourselves and others, and investment by our studio, 00 (‘zero zero’) and the engineers we work with, Momentum. To start with, exhibitions and events essentially paid for prototypes, and as the system gets more advanced, and we’re now working on the first full houses, those micro-commissions are helping to drive development. Every team has a different funding model, you can ask the same question of WikiHouseNZ for example and probably get a different answer!). There has also been a small amount of crowdfunding, which is slow but fantastic. We are also in the process of seeking some seed funding to help support the platform as a whole." (http://www.open-electronics.org/interview-to-alastair-parvin-and-wikihouse-project/)

Discussion

Eric Hunting:

"WikiHouse - An Open Hardware Building System

http://www.wikihouse.cc/

WikiHouse is a project developed by London design group 00:/ (http://www.architecture00.net/) intended to explore the prospect of Open Hardware development in architectural design and housing. It's objective is to establish a series of Creative Commons licensed housing designs that are engineered for production from plywood using CNC and assembly with simple puzzle-fit construction, bolts, and screws. These designs are intended for on-line distribution as Google SketchUp data allowing free access and customization. The designs draw heavily on the previous work of MIT in CNC-based housing construction, using much the same kind of puzzle-fit structural system. MIT's own work on this concept turned to commercialization of on-demand production services through proprietary software doing procedural CAD/CAM generation rather than truly hackable Open Hardware development. So here is an opportunity to really put this technology into the public's and the open tech community's hands.

Six simple structures are shown on the site, based on a stressed skin structural system using clear span bay sections linked by slot-fit cross members and rigidized by skin panels. Most are single floor cottage or shed scale. This form of construction has been demonstrated sound in a great many other projects to date and well suits the use of flat bed CNC and simple CAD drawing. It has become increasingly popular with a lot of student architecture projects because of its versatility, though it has some limitations with window and door installation. However, 00:/ 's designs appear rudimentary and experimental. None are shown in a finished state and only one small portion of a structure seems to have been prototyped so far.

Though strong and very flexible in the range of modest scale forms possible, this kind of structural system tends to favor 'throw away' architecture because the finished products are very limited in adaptation and post-construction customization -even more so than conventional stick frame construction. Plywood itself varies greatly from country to country and manufacturer to manufacturer in long-term resilience and in the use of potential toxic binder materials and wood preservatives. These structures are potentially somewhat demountable in core structure but not very reconfigurable because the design is locked by the absolute form of the unit profile sections and they ultimately rely on 'destructive' assembly using self-embedding screws, nails, glues and conventional non-removable interior finishing. Repair and renovation are surgically destructive processes. This is generally overlooked as a 'problem' with these structures as they rarely get used permanently and because conventional housing construction is generally the same. But it does limit the potential economy of this housing to little better than conventional because most of the costs of housing construction is in finishing, not primary structure. So as long as one outfits the interior in a conventional way, the economy of these kinds of structures comes only from the relatively small net reduced time and possible sweat equity in the primary construction. This, however, is much improved where buildings are modest in scale and the interior design exploits the virtues of the clear-span volumes through open plan design. This is particularly well suited to quick-build relief housing where finishing is kept minimalist or mostly eliminated by utilitarian pre-finished/non-finished materials. In that context, this approach is a real boon with a potential to exploit truly low cost materials like laminated cardboard or recycled materials.

Despite the limitations, the very easy 'hackability', simple materials, ready suitability for flat-bed CNC, and freedom of experimentation with minimum CGI skills at the pre-construction level makes such structures an appropriate choice in an Open Hardware context and this project's idea of establishing freely accessed/customized plans on-line has great potential. Unfortunately, this design team doesn't seem as yet to be doing very much to realize that potential. There are no CAD or model files for any of their structures available on the above web site. No detailed descriptions or renderings of any designs. No step-by-step instructions. No attempt to characterize the structural system as with a standard design methodology. Either we have caught this project in a very early stage of development, or they have among them a very nebulous notion of what Open Hardware is about, how you communicate with the larger community, and what designers' roles are in this context. They note that they will be showcasing their first full house at a design conference in Korea in September, which is nice, but that sort of traditional venue is irrelevant to Open Hardware. For that, the Internet is your showcase venue and the 'source files' -the CAD files and instructions- what you showcase and share. The whole point to Open Hardware is open participation and the 'source files' are the essential medium of that participation. If they're ready to go for september, shouldn't there be a complete design to show on their web site now? They must have the CAD and modeling done for that much.

Frankly, this kind of thing just isn't that hard. The average maker on Instructibles would have more work to show by now. If the idea is to keep things under wraps until the 'coming out' presentation, one has to ask what one might hope to get at the Gwangju Biennale that you can't get on Thingiverse? The point is how many of the sort of people who will _use_ an Open Hardware design one can reach, not those who will just gawk at it and do a magazine write-up. Are we looking at another Riversimple Urban Car hyping itself as 'open source' yet, years later, there are still no CAD files and production details released to the public? Hopefully 00:/ will soon avail themselves of some real makers who can set them straight on what Open Hardware is all about. There is a great opportunity here, and it would be a tragedy to miss it." (email, August 2011)


Ecological Aspects

Mahdi Gheshlaghi:

"WikiHouse is an open source construction concept made of wooden structures. These structures are produced by CNC machines and assembled by man force (Wikihouse, 2013). According to its website, ecological aspects of WikiHouse are:

 Using low-carbon and fully recyclable or biodegradable materials; Locally sourced 18 mm Plywood, is the basic raw material used in WikiHouse (Wikihouse, 2013).

 Designed for local production; Parts and components of a house are downloaded and milled using local CNC machines (Wikihouse, 2013)." (http://p2pfoundation.net/Potential_of_Open_Design_for_Eco-Efficient_Product_Development)

 Designed for easy assembly; The parts are able to be assembled using standard fixing (M8 bolts, 4mmx50mm and 4mmx30mm woodscrews) without requiring special tools and skills (Wikihouse, 2013)."

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