WikiHouse: democratizing architecture
August 15, 2011 1 Comment
WikiHouse has had Twitter all abuzz today, and a number of design sites have been writing about it (my favorite so far has been at Protein). Basically, the idea is that WikiHouse will have some basic house forms, like the ones above, that a person can download from their website into Google SketchUp. Here they can be arranged and even modified to fit the housing needs of an individual. From SketchUp, the user can hit a “Make this House” button, and WikiHouse will generate drawings for a CNC cutter. The cutter will cut out essentially large jigsaw pieces of 18 mm plywood, which can be assembled into two-layer section.
These sections can then be spaced out 600 mm and then joined by connectors,
which are then overlaid by cladding panels. The final product still needs insulation, cladding, sealing and services, but the basic architecture and framing have been taken care of at just the cost of materials, and fairly cheap materials at that, using no power tools and simple fasteners like wing nuts and screws. Twitter user skytempledesign said, “It’s like buying a house from Ikea, except you don’t have to pay.”
Part of what this does is it successfully puts modern architecture and construction into the hands of end users. Whereas before user-made construction has consisted of huts and shanties, this could provide low-cost, high-quality housing for millions. At the same time, it gives people much more control over the design of their homes. The basic forms have somewhat of an angular, post-modern or deconstructivist feel, but they could be modified to fit any design or style. Along with some basic site planning, these designs could maximize sustainability and allow for any sort of decoration (or lack thereof) that people wish to have on their homes. I hope that something like this will allow builders, DIY enthusaists and hobby architects to take part in design and construction in ways that they haven’t been able to before.