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United Kingdom News Technology

British Architects Develop Open-Source Home Building 96 96

Iddo Genuth writes "Think of a world where you could simply download the blueprints of your future home for free just like you download any open source software today. A team of British architects developed just that and they are hoping their project called WikiHouse will radically change the way we think about building homes."
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British Architects Develop Open-Source Home Building

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  • by drolli (522659) on Friday May 31, 2013 @04:56AM (#43870235) Journal

    I agree. The knowledge is nearly all open (although a few mandatory standards are probably not in the library). The problem is that architecting (and implementing) a house wrongly has an extreme expensive long-term effect. Please use experts (which have all this open knowledge)

    a) Violate a mandatory building standard and you may end up with very high change costs ("Oh, what you mean i cant build x meters high in distance of y meters to z").

    b) If you do something wrong, the effects will not be visible in a shot time, If your walls start to rot in 10 years or your house has a crack of 2cm in 20 years because you did not take care about humidity or the ground below, it your problem

    c) Unless stamped out of the ground by the dozend in a new area which is planned at a single time (in which case the cost of the "manual" expert planning may be even less relevant), every house is special (surrounding, use, standars at the time), and mostly for a reason. If you dont want to spend your time tracking standards, laws, building techniques, and financing and apply an up-to date technique to you specific situation at a specific time

    Somehow this thing remind me of all the "3d-printer"-fans around here, who are obviously unaware of what you can do with a decent set of manual tools, and think just because you can "download" somthing you can understand or control it.

  • Ah, the Wikihouse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 31, 2013 @04:58AM (#43870243)

    Disclaimer: I'm the founder of the Hexayurt Project, another Free Hardware building system (http://hexayurt.com)

    Wikihouse is exciting technically, but it's *incredibly* expensive to build - something like 7000 EUR of CNC cutting time for a single room. The parametric design aspects of the project are great, however, and I can see a future in which the components are mass produced at reasonable price and then assembled according to plans generated from the parametric design software. But without some kind of standardization, this kind of production is going to remain incurably expensive and therefore just another architectural demo. It's not a technology until costs are estimated. This has happened before: the Open Architecture Network (http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/) rapidly filled with impractical technology demonstrators and student projects - 10000+ designs, but how many practically buildable?

    Actually getting buildings that people can build is hard. Architects are trained to think about custom work, one-offs and impressing other architects. Mass producing housing at a price people can afford (hello, Mortage Crisis, goodbye Mortgage Crisis) requires a radical rethink of how we do construction: modularity, prefabrication, standardization - all the same things we did for every other technology we wanted to be cheap, easy and reliable.

    Home building is the last truly inefficient global industry. Whether the radical change is interchangable modular components (structural insualted panels) or something like 3D printing with insulated concrete, we can't keep buliding houses by hand in a world where everything else is efficiently mass produced with near-zero defects and not distort the shape of our societies.

    Hexayurts are dirt cheap and designed for modular mass manufacture. But they look weird. Such is life :-)

  • by vkg (158234) on Friday May 31, 2013 @05:03AM (#43870257) Homepage

    I should start this with a disclaimer: I'm the founder of the Hexayurt Project, a Free Hardware building system aimed at refugees and in widespread use at Burning Man. It's those silver pod things (http://hexayurt.com)

    I think Wikihouse is exciting technically, but it's *incredibly* expensive to build - something like 7000 EUR of CNC cutting time for a single room. The parametric design aspects of the project are great, however, and I can see a future in which the components are mass produced at reasonable price and then assembled according to plans generated from the parametric design software. But without some kind of standardization, this kind of production is going to remain incurably expensive and therefore just another architectural demo. It's not a technology until costs are estimated. This has happened before: Architecture For Humanity's Open Architecture Network (http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/) rapidly filled with impractical technology demonstrators and student projects - 10000+ designs, but how many practically buildable?

    Actually getting buildings that people can build is hard. Architects are trained to think about custom work, one-offs and impressing other architects. Mass producing housing at a price people can afford (hello, Mortage Crisis, goodbye Mortgage Crisis) requires a radical rethink of how we do construction: modularity, prefabrication, standardization - all the same things we did for every other technology we wanted to be cheap, easy and reliable.

    It's often said that home building is the last truly-madly-deeply inefficient global industry. Imagine if they built cars by having people come to your garage to hand-assemble them! Whether the radical change is mass manufacture of entire houses Buckminster Fuller style, interchangable modular components (structural insualted panels) or something like 3D printing with insulated concrete, we can't keep buliding houses by hand in a world where everything else is efficiently mass produced with near-zero defects and not distort the shape of our societies.

    Hexayurts are dirt cheap and designed for modular mass manufacture. But they look weird. Such is life :-)

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