Aug 19, 2016: Open Source Tiny Homes

This week I would like to introduce you to the extraordinary work of Catarina Mota and Marcin Jakubowski.

Marcin and Catarina are Open Source Advocates and they are working on a number of projects that could prove to be highly disruptive to corporate interests and highly beneficial to people.

So what does ‘Open Source’ mean? According to this website‘The phrase open source usually refers to a community-developed and community-supported hardware or software project. Typically, the phrase open source means that the technology is free to use, free to share and free to modify.’  The evolution of the internet has made access to information readily available to a huge audience. So people who are ecologically or community-minded can develop an idea and make it freely available to anyone with an internet connection. In the case of Catarina and Marcin, their focus is on making useful things like houses, farm machinery or smart materials. Between them they have been involved in establishing projects such as Open Materials, the Open Source Hardware AssociationOpen Source Ecology, the Global Village Construction Set and the Open Building Institute. All of these are well worth checking out if you’re into making cool stuff but I’d like to focus on two of them for now.

The Open Building Institute

The Open Building Institute provides all of the information and training required to build a low-cost, ecological house.

The Open Building Institute provides all of the information and training required to build a low-cost, ecological house.

To quote from their website, ‘The Open Building Institute is an Open Source effort to make ecological, affordable housing widely available‘. This reminds me strongly of the original goal of the Greeny Flat project which was to see if we could build a small, energy positive and affordable house. But the Open Building Institute takes a very different approach by designing sustainable buildings in modular sections which can be put together in an infinite number of ways then making all of the information freely available on the internet. They also train people how to build in group sessions similar to a barn raising which can see a whole house built in just a few days. Plus they provide all of the information needed to make or source the materials required and to build any machinery that might be necessary. Which leads to the next project…

The Global Village Construction Set

This is another Open Source project that is under development to provide all of the information required to build all of the machines needed to create a ‘civilization’. As described on this Open Source Ecology web page

‘The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that enables fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts’.

This is pretty wordy but the idea has fantastic practical applications. Imagine that you wanted to start a farm but couldn’t afford a tractor… the GVCS shows you how to build your own. The easiest way to understand it is to watch the following video of Marcin’s TED talk about the idea.

I was particularly impressed by Marcin’s comment that ‘I needed tools that were robust, modular, highly efficient and optimised, low cost, made from local and recycled materials that would last a lifetime, not designed for obsolescence… I found that I would have to build them myself. So I did just that’  And now he’s making it easy (or at least much easier than it was for him) for anyone to do the same. So far they have built prototypes of 8 of the 50 ‘essential’ machines and they’re working on the rest. This could be very bad news for the huge corporations that make billions of dollars selling machines that are designed and built NOT to last but it’s great news for people who want to be more self reliant and productive. As he says, ‘If we can lower the barriers to farming, building, manufacturing… then we can unleash just massive amounts of human potential.

Boat Builder’s Container Home

Speaking of human potential, check out the following YouTube video about a craftsmand who applied the design brilliance, gorgeous woodwork and clever use of space learned through years of building and fitting out boats to his own tiny home inside a 20 foot shipping container. Unlike many shipping container homes, this one maintains the ability to be shipped anywhere in the world as a shipping container and then opened up to make a gorgeous little house.

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