As open source advocates and newlyweds, Marcin Jakubowski and Catarina Mota decided to reinvent the home-building wheel a few years back. In the process, they have been developing an entirely open-source toolkit that makes the design and construction of eco-friendly, off-grid modular housing easier, cheaper, and faster through use of modular designs, rapid-build construction, social production, locally-sourced materials, and open-source machines.

The basic premise, distilled through a lot of experimentation, is that a 700-square-foot starter home, including an aquaponic greenhouse, could be constructed in five days for less than $25,000 in materials. While that budget puts the actual construction in the hands of the owner, the Open Building Institute has plans to train builders to organize apprentice laborers to handle the modular, rapid-build projects. It's a good, old-fashioned, community-based barn-raising for the 21st century that could even be staged as a workshop. OBI's hope is that this "turnkey service" will add a mere $10,000 to the price tag of the starter home.

Eco options included in the OBI design package are solar panels with a grid-tie inverter, LED lights, biofiber insulation, rainwater collection systems, and much more.

Jakubowski (founder of Open Source Ecology) and Mota (founder of the Open Building Institute) have recruited a group of world-renowned advisors and contributors from all over the world to help things along. Still, they are hoping to raise $80,000 via Kickstarter to pull the toolkit together.

The goals of off-grid, closed-loop, self-sufficient living is similar to the RegenVillages project, which has gotten a lot of press recently including here on Shareable, but is fully committed to making all technology open source.

Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

Things I share: I seek. I write. I think. I roam. I listen. I care. I wonder. I help. I flirt. I try. I dream. I grow.