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Open Source Sustainable Architecture

diy eco-friendly products environmentally friendly green business green products open source

open source architecture plansOpen source sustainable architectural plans can help owner builders and everyone involved in the rather carbon intensive and polluting building industry get with the times. 

What is open source exactly? 

Open source projects, like Firefox and GIMP came out of software development. However the term open source refers to anything people can modify and share because its design is publicly and freely accessible. 

The greatest strengths of the "the open source way" is the collaborative participation and rapid prototyping. We certainly need some rapid movement on the sustainable housing front. 

villa verde open source

Let's take a look at some open source sustainable architecture initiatives. 

A quick google search could bring up a number of popular architecture and design zines referencing Paperhouses, which was a standalone website, but has since moved their open source housing plans here.

Head over to this Elemental to download 4 architectural plans. This is one of them and the story behind them is worth a listen.


The picture at the top of this open source architecture house plan post comes from Dekleva Gregorič architects from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Here's there take:

Open source architecture has the potential to reach users that would never even consider finding an architect and starting a design–build process that can deeply affect a sizeable amount of territory and population. It also offers potential for the process to go from generic to highly specific, and provide an opportunity for user customisation to become collaborative design. Unknown users, their needs and behaviour, together with an unknown context (physical, climatic, economic, technological, material) generate the need for customisation. 

No doubt you are familiar with wiki, but how about wikihouse?

wikihouse building plans

Head over to Wikihouse for more information and to get the files. Important to take note of the ethos of this open source building project.

Can I really use WikiHouse files for free?

Yes. WikiHouse is open source technology, developed by a community of designers and engineers. So you can use the intellectual property for free without asking our permission. We believe sustainable building solutions should be common knowledge for everyone. However you must share any improvements you make under the same licence. You cannot sell any product or service using the name 'WikiHouse' without our express permission. Most importantly of all, WikiHouse files and information come with no warranties or guarantees, so if you do use them, you do so entirely at your own risk. Read the full terms of use here.

With this project and others it would be great if other sustainable ie straw bale, cob and other natural builders and architects could contribute to their development. We need these plans to use bio-based materials like hemp along with these incredible design ideas.

 Digitally-manufactured building system - Blackbird Structural Construction Set developed by Wikihouse.

Here is a very ambitious and exciting directory of open-source sustainable design blueprints from EXX. And remember as they say, "You don’t have to be an expert architect, engineer or agronomer to “hack” your community’s built spaces. The eex toolkit makes it accessible to anyone with a smartphone." Check out and add to their repository on Wikifactory. 

 seed eco home greenhouse open source

Open Source Ecology has a straw bale house plan along with their rather incredible treasure trove of other open source designs and tools. Their goal is to create an open source economy – an efficient economy which increases innovation by open collaboration. Check out their CEB or compressed earth block house. 

Married together, quite literally with Open Source Ecology is the Open Building Institute. See the story and here from both founders. You have to love their mission: Our mission is to make affordable, ecological housing accessible to everyone, while fostering collaborative and regenerative practices.

There are some other interesting open source furniture sites and even ones to help you grow food

If you are looking for some free home plans then have a look at:

  • Your Home Australia 

    Our free Design For Place home designs will help you create an energy-efficient, sustainable home that suits your climate and lifestyle.

  • Download Home Design Plans
    In 2016, the City of Phoenix Mayor and Council adopted ambitious 2050 Sustainability Goals, its roadmap to becoming a carbon-neutral, zero-waste city. As a step towards achieving these goals, the City of Phoenix wishes to encourage the construction of ultra-low energy use homes.
  • Open Source Home: Studiolada
    house plans—for free. (in French).
  • Rammed Earth House by Earth Dwellings
  • Sweet Home 3D
    Free interior design application which helps you draw the plan of your house, arrange furniture on it and visit the results in 3D
  • Open-source Sensory Hub
    This one isn't a house, but wow is it touching.   

If you want a bit more reading why this is important have a look at an architecture guide to the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals which state that;

Architects can provide basic ideas and proposals for regulations that make it possible for us to have sustainable cities and communities in the future. Architects can facilitate an open dialogue and work in partnerships to give us good solutions, and they can encourage authorities to make the regulations necessary to move forward. This publication is a very valuable presentation of ideas and projects about just that.

Please leave comments with any other open source sustainable architecture plans. 


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