Design to continuously lower barriers of time, cost, risk, skill and complexity at every stage. Don't fight old solutions, outperform them.
Bake knowledge and complexity into discrete pre-manufactured components that are simple and predictable to fit together.
Wet-trades are messy, inconsistent, slow and impossible to disassemble. Instead, most parts should slot, bolt, screw, click, staple or tape together.
Also known as ‘mistake-proofing’. Design parts such that it is physically impossible to assemble them incorrectly.
Tag parts such that they can be sorted, assembled or maintained without needing to refer to drawings if possible. Think ‘building by numbers’ (or colours).
No one can solve everyone’s problems. Design something that works where you are, then share so others can adapt it for their own economy, climate and culture. Products should evolve like Darwin’s finches (that's why WikiHouse systems are all named after birds and animals).
As far as possible, try to design-out any risks to people’s safety, health and wellbeing at all stages of a building’s life – from making to use to disassembly.
Instead of manufacturing one-size-fits-all products in large, centralised factories, use local, flexible microfactories. ‘It is easier to ship recipes than cakes and biscuits’
– John Maynard Keynes
Use widely available, well-standardised parts and materials. Be as product-agnostic and provider-agnostic as possible, so anything can be switched-out for an alternative product or company if required.
Use as few unique materials and joining methods as possible. Difficulty increases exponentially with each additional material or procedure. All the complexity should be baked-into software or CNC cutting files.
All components should be made to sufficient precision so the building is predictably accurate and straight, but also tolerant enough that they will always fit together easily.
Separate-out (or avoid) any task that can cause knock-on delays to other tasks if it is not done on time, especially if it needs to be done by others.
Build-in ‘tells’ or indicators that make it visible if something is incorrectly assembled, missing, failing or not working properly.
Kaizen means continuous incremental improvement. Anyone working at any point in the supply chain can suggest small improvements to make the process better.
‘Be lazy like a fox’ – Linus Torvalds. Share solutions for others to freely adapt and improve. This way, we all benefit from a huge R&D community, and great solutions become common knowledge, so no problem needs to be solved twice.
Use parts and materials that can be reused or fully recycled, without degradation in quality, or creating harm to people, wildlife or the environment.
Avoid design which would be considered ‘alternative’, ‘boutique’, 'prefabricated' or only for the rich or poor. Instead, design products that most people would consider desirable and affordable, using timeless patterns that people love.
Never stop looking for ways in which age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, wealth or background might be barriers, and try to design them out.
‘If you can’t mend it, you don’t own it’. Afford as much understanding and power as possible to the people who will actually build, maintain and live-in the thing.
Democracy is a design diagram.