What Wikipedia did for information, Alastair Parvin and his colleagues hope the WikiHouse Foundation will do for housebuilding - opening up architectural design plans to everyone and allowing people to 3D print materials to build a house. Joel Flynn reports.
When is a house not a house? No, not a joke, but a new way of building homes that could mean low-cost and sustainable building construction. London design firm WikiHouse is open-sourcing plans to print and build your own home. Co-creator Alastair Parvin says it's a low-cost and sustainable solution to the global housing crisis. SOUNDBITE: WikiHouse Foundation Co-Founder, Alastair Parvin, saying (English): "Effectively the idea is to make it possible to essentially share and then download a house, which you can then customise the design of and print out the parts for using a machine called a CNC machine, which is essentially like a cross between the printer you have at home and a drill, and from a standard sheet material like plywood that cuts out the parts and that basically gives you a flatpack house which you can then assemble in a few days." Parvin thinks that by making his WikiHouse Foundation website an open forum, people will swap ideas and come up with innovative common solutions. SOUNDBITE: WikiHouse Foundation Co-Founder, Alastair Parvin, saying (English): "So we're effectively saying that sustainable design solutions should literally be common knowledge, in the same way that Wikipedia makes our knowledge commons. It's produced by the same people but it belongs to everyone, and we're doing effectively the same thing, and that is, in a way, more disruptive, than the particular technologies that we're starting with." The UN says the world's population will reach 8 billion by 2030. According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute last year, 1.6 billion could face a housing crisis within a decade. The cost of fixing that could run as high as 16 trillion dollars. It's still early days for the WikiHouse - currently just one house on their website. But if their plans take off, building with bricks and mortar could quickly become a thing of the past.