Website address:

Location: Based in Great Britain

Co-founders: Alastair Parvin & Nicholas Ierodiaconou

Short Summary

WikiHouse is "an open source project to reinvent the way we make homes." At the heart of this open source construction kit is a simple question: what if, instead of architects creating buildings for those who can afford to commission them, common people could design and build their own houses? WikiHouse's methodology seeks to build housing that is simple, affordable, ecologically sustainable, and easy for anyone to use and improve upon.

WikiHouse construction. source

The WikiHouse Design Principles set forth fifteen guidelines that architects, designers, engineers, investors, manufacturers and builders are using to achieve transformation.

WikiHouse as an institutional structure facilitates collaborations among companies, organizations and governments to “develop new open technologies, standards and common infrastructures for housing and sustainable development.”

The project wants to put the design solutions for building low-cost, low-energy, high-performance homes “into the hands of every citizen and business on earth.”

And they want to

grow a new, distributed housing industry, comprising many citizens, communities and small businesses developing homes and neighborhoods for themselves, reducing our dependence on top-down, debt-heavy mass housing systems.

One of the core assumptions of WikiHouse is that

Digital design allows every home to be designed as code, instantly customized to its site and users, whilst keeping control over cost. (Source)
This philosophy for the technology, economics and processes of house-building are given greater elaboration in the WikiHouse Design Principles, which we consider a beautiful example of a Commons Charter. It urges participants to “share global, manufacture local”; design to lower thresholds (to reduce the time, cost, skill and energy needed); rely on open standards and open source share-alike licenses; and empower users to repair and modify features of their homes; among other practices.

WikiHouse houses. source

YOUTUBE aWusENSQGbs Alastair Parvin's talk "Housing without Debt" in the House of the Commons (2016)


Formally, WikiHouse is "managed" by the nonprofit WikiHouse Foundation. But as a creature of the open source software world and its respective social practices, WikiHouse is a fundamentally self-organized, voluntary, collaborative community of professionals and amateurs interested in a new vision of housing design and construction.

There is certainly a kind of commons of designers, architects, engineers, researchers, students and so forth, in developing the WikiHouse organizational and building models. Among communities and users, however, that is apparently more aspirational than real at this point.

Ultimately, many participants in the WikiHouse commons have only a casual commitment to other participants or to the WikiHouse principles. This is consistent with many open-source projects, which invite deep commitments but do not require them.

In classic open-source style, the community shares its ideas, designs and latest innovations so that anyone can use them and build upon them. WikiHouse encourages people to freely use their ideas. This is yet another case of developing greater value through the open sharing of an intangible resource (designs) than through proprietary ownership.


As recounted on Wikipedia, Wikihouse won a TEDGlobal case prize in 2012, which spurred it to enter into a partnership to build WikiHouses in a favela in Rio de Janeiro.

Other such partnerships were planned, along with efforts to build WikiHouses to assist in disaster relief efforts. While several prototype houses have been built in Scotland, New Zealand, Austria, Mexico and other countries, the project remains mostly in a prototype stage.

Here is a list of WikiHouse's projects.

YOUTUBE 1B4La88bqO0 A report from Reuters about WikiHouse and social housing

Friends & Partners

⸮ Finances

[Note: Couldn't find any info about their funding]

Origin Story

In 2011, two recent architectural graduates, Alastair Parvin and Nicholas Ierodiaconou, joined a London design practice called Zero Zero Architecture, where they were able to experiment with their ideas about open design.

Parvin and Ierodiaconou found that a familiar technology known as computer numerical control fabrication (CNC) would allow them to make digital designs that could be used to fabricate large, flat housing components from plywood. This eventually led them to publish open source files for houses. The idea was to allow anyone to modify and improve the designs for different circumstances, and to enable unskilled labor to quickly and inexpensively erect the structural shell of a home. They called it WikiHouse.

Since its beginnings, WikiHouse has blossomed into a global design community with independent chapters in several countries.

YOUTUBE Mlt6kaNjoeI TED Talk by WikiHouse co-founder Alastair Parvin

See Also

  • Other commons categories that are related to this one's, or specific similar examples