In an effort to bring affordable, sustainable housing to urban, low-income areas around the world, architect Vincent van der Meulen has teamed up with the Dutch organization Enviu to launch the Open Source House project, "a platform where designers, architects and entrepreneurs can share and work together on ideas for people in need." Their first initiative is an international design competition:

The website for this project has a list of eight thought-provoking principles of open-source housing, which immediately brought to my mind Janelle Orsi's "Slow Homes Manifesto":

  1. Locally embedded: The design is embedded in the local cultural context (e.g. socially and economically); it can be produced locally, aims at improving local employment and know-how and strives to minimize the need for import and transportation.
  2. Design the whole life cycle: The future disassembly and material-use are an integral part of the design. All organic and technical materials can be separated. Natural resources are renewable.
  3. Climate: The design makes optimal use of its location and surrounding climate conditions in order to minimize energy consumption.
  4. Size: The design adheres to local building standards. Elements are transportable and re-usable (e.g. elements of house ‘A’ are exchangeable with elements of house ‘B’).
  5. Structure: The load-bearing structure is separated from the demountable building skin.
  6. Connections: All connections between the components and the structure are dry and demountable. This makes re-assembly easy and clean.
  7. Installations: All installations must guarantee a flexible organization of the household and provide a sustainable way of living. The installations are smart, safe, upgradeable and adapted to the local ecology. They can function independently from the structure and skin.
  8. Open-Source Share: All designs and ideas will be published and shared on to inspire others. Others may use, improve and adapt them. For that purpose designs, drawings and presentations are made in a clear, reproducible manner.
Jeremy Adam Smith


Jeremy Adam Smith

Jeremy Adam Smith is the editor who helped launch He's the author of The Daddy Shift (Beacon Press, June 2009); co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct (W.W. Norton

Things I share: Mainly babysitting with other parents! I also share all the transportation I can, through bikes and buses and trains and carpooling.