Mission
The aim of WikiHouse is to put the knowledge & tools to build beautiful, zero-carbon buildings into the hands of every citizen, community and business.
Image – OSL / Real living homes

An industrial evolution in how we make buildings.

As a society, one of the great moonshot challenges that we face between now and 2050 is to transform construction and development: moving from the risky, outdated, carbon-intensive, wasteful methods we have been using towards healthy, high-performance, zero-carbon, zero-waste homes and neighbourhoods that are wonderful places to live.

Locally made, anywhere.

The big idea behind WikiHouse is the power of 'many small'. WikiHouse isn't made by just one company in one large, centralised factory, but by a distributed network of small, local fabricators and assemblers, collaborating on common, shared design solutions. So it's not just about building homes: it's also about building local economic capacity, everywhere.

We are creating the infrastructure to tool-up communities and small businesses to build the homes we need.
Photo – Rory Gardiner

Design principles

Design to lower thresholds

Design to continuously lower barriers of time, cost, risk, skill and complexity at every stage. Don't fight old solutions, outperform them.

Modular

Bake knowledge and complexity into discrete pre-manufactured components that are simple and predictable to fit together.

Design for disassembly

Wet-trades are messy, inconsistent, slow and impossible to disassemble. Instead, most parts should slot, bolt, screw, click, staple or tape together.

'Poka Yoke'

Also known as ‘mistake-proofing’. Design parts such that it is physically impossible to assemble them incorrectly.

Tag

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).

Start somewhere

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).

Design-out hazards

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.

Share global,
manufacture local

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

Interoperable

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.

Keep it as simple as possible

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.

Precision and tolerance

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.

Design-out dependencies

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.

Design-in ‘canaries’

Build-in ‘tells’ or indicators that make it visible if something is incorrectly assembled, missing, failing or not working properly.

Kaizen

Kaizen means continuous incremental improvement. Anyone working at any point in the supply chain can suggest small improvements to make the process better.

Open source

‘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.  

Circular

Use parts and materials that can be reused or fully recycled, without degradation in quality, or creating harm to people, wildlife or the environment.

Design for the ‘new normal’

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.

Design for inclusion

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.

Empower users

‘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.