Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The WikiHouse Revolution
from this slate article:
In the early half of the 20th century, Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold tens of thousands of self-assembly homes to customers across the United States by mail order. A “Sears Modern Home” came in a railroad-delivered kit complete with more than 30,000 component parts, along with nails, paints, and fittings, and a weighty leather-bound instruction manual to help you put together the designs yourself. The plans were designed to be simple enough to be assembled without help from architects, carpenters, or any specialist contractors—in most cases, Sears homes were assembled solely by the buyer, with the help of friends, family, and neighbors, in communal, barn-raising fashion.
As it was the advent of mass-manufacturing and the birth of American DIY spirit that gave way to the then-popularity of the Sears precut home (Sears wasn’t the first, nor the only company in the business), so it is that an Internet reaching maturity, with open-source spirit, brings us the Sears home of our own age: the WikiHouse.
WikiHouse is an “open-source construction set” that allows you to build your own house from slot-together pieces that you mill yourself, from crowd-sourced, open-source designs that you download free from the Web. The idea is to make it easy for anyone to build a house from scratch, without power tools or specialized knowledge, and for the price of raw materials alone. Choose your design, print and cut the parts, grab some friends, and get barn-raising. Et voilà, you have yourself a WikiHouse.