Open Source House

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Project 1


"You are about to witness a quantum leap in design and accessibility of housing in developing countries. The event is the birth of an open source on the web that offers professional designs for affordable, durable, modular and climate-specific houses. The designs are brought in by architects from all over the world and are continually under construction in search of the solutions most suitable to the needs and preferences of the local buyers and future owners of these houses.

We want to make knowledge and creativity in housing accessible to a large group of people and are looking for architects to bring in new ideas." (

The 8 principles of the OSH project

"The eight Open Source House principles (in concept) are:

  • Local economy: The design will have to be embedded in the local culture and economy. Improve employment, and know-how and prevent transportation.
  • Design according to Cradle-to-cradle: The future disassembly and material-use should be an integral part of the design. All organic and technical materials should be able to be separated completely. Natural resources used should be renewable.
  • Climate: Make optimum use of location and climate conditions. Minimize energy consumption.
  • Size: All OS-houses have to be designed on the local measurement system. Elements have to be transportable and exchangeable with other local OS- houses
  • Structure: Separate the load-bearing structure from the demountable building skin.
  • Connections: All connections between components and the structure and components have to be dry and demountable. This makes disassembly easy and clean.
  • Building services: All building services guarantee a flexible organization of the house and provide a sustainable way of living. The building services are smart, safe, upgradeable and adapted to the local ecology. They can function independent from the structure and skin.
  • Exchange : All designs and ideas will be published and shared on for other people to use, improve and get inspired. The designs, drawings and presentations are made in a clear, reproducible manner."


Project 2


"In 2006 Rahm Rechtschaffen, a former architecture student at the Catholic University in Washington DC, based his thesis project on the open source ideology. He developed the design of a house together with over 20 other people that directly contributed to the project.

In Rahm’s words:

‘Open Source House is an experimental architectural design project. The goal is to design a house while making the design process and design documents available to all potential users of the house for comment and contribution.’

People participated since early design stages, like site analysis, all the way to construction feasibility and final details like sound system selection for the home.

Rahm states:

‘I believe that the direct application of open source principles to architecture would not work well. Software and architecture are too different to transfer a process from one to the other without significant modification. (…) Despite these difficulties, architectural design can be enhanced and enriched through the use of open source design principles.’

In Rahm’s vision of open source applied to architecture the architect still keeps control of the project:

‘I envision an architectural open source project to be one in which the users contribute to but do not actually design the end product.’

Rahm’s project is very unique and I would have liked to found in the project’s Flickr group, the interface where the project was developed, some final comments or analysis of the whole experience after it was finished. What were the difficulties he encountered? What could we learned from the process? Would it be possible to make an open source design together with other architects instead of end users?" (

More Information

To see the process itself and the very interesting way he coordinated the project go to: