Download, print and build your own house?

Astrid van Roij-Lubsen

"That's a pity, I had hoped that I could just print my garden house with the push of a button...“, a reaction of a visitor that came to the meeting ‘Download, print and build your own house?’ at the RAP Architecture centre in Leiden. But no, we are not that far yet. But the design process to get to a downloadable house that you can build yourself has started at

Steve Swiggers and Vincent Muller of the Dutch branch of Wikihouse presented their design at the RAP for an open source garden house. Via they invited everyone to co-design specific parts they could find a solution for themselves. From our Open Design Lab, I was asked to shed some light on the societal impact of open design and digital fabrication. A third speaker from Wikimedia showed how Wikipedia could benefit from some simple, clear but open guidelines to get an enormous amount of contributions. Could this be inspiration for builders?

Physical objects - and certainly houses - are a lot more complex than words or code and this makes it a lot more complicated than with Wikipedia to develop things in a voluntary way. All speakers agreed that by opening up the process there is chance to let others participate.

From the audience a suggestion was made to start an online cooperation by someone working in IT, something the building experts did not considered so far. Many architects are still hesitant to share their ‘work in progress’. This is after all a house we're dealing with, and you want to be sure that it is solid enough before anyone starts downloading it. “But, good architecture always leaks”, someone remarked, “so let's share it anyway!”

Wikihouse logo

About the author