Open Source Architecture

Open Source Architecture is a growing approach for designing buildings, where the design tools, plans and other materials are freely available, so that anyone can use them, rather than protected as copyrighted intellectual property.

Generally viewed as the architectural version of open source computing, and as analogous to hardware and software designed to be openly accessible and can be used by anyone. Cooking is often used as an example of one of the earliest forms of open source activities, a menu which anyone can cook from, share and change ingredients with anyone across space and time.

Like open source computing anyone, can add, adapt and rework designs which, again, can be used by anyone else. Open Source Architecture is being driven by a current, younger generation of designers, who see it as a part of a wider technologically informed tool-kit, enabling customised designs to happen on or close to a site. The new generation of tools include CNC routers, FABlabs and the internet of things. Some believe it is a part of a new ‘emerging paradigm.’ Of course, the arrival of the computer didn’t inaugurate openly accessible architectural design. Vernacular architecture is cited as the original open source architecture, with menus for designing buildings passed on from generation to generation, adapted, improved and updated as types are tried and worked on.

A good example of an architect developing a design and detailing system and making it available to all is what’s called the Segal Self-Build Method, named after Walter Segal, the community architect. Here are a few examples of how Open Source architecture is growing through the Internet.

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