Will future homes be open source and Creative Commons-licensed?

January 27 |

I'mma slip into geek mode for a bit. I know you can handle it. ­čÖé

I am so in love with open source solutions, but I'm used to free, group-edited projects being relegated to the tech world: Google plugins for my Gmail and Chrome, Wikipedia…the number of ways humans have found to work together to improve our world is astounding and effing impressive. Could you imagine what Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, would think of the accumulation of information that is Wikipedia?!

It seems that the trend is breaking into the real world. Enter The Ekinoid Project: a UK-based open-source plan for round housing.

The copper model.

The Ekinoid Project: Goals

  1. Designing the Ekinoid home in such a (bolt-together, colour-coded) way that it can be built onsite by cooperating individuals (unskilled in traditional building construction): You build your own home; you can help others build theirs.
  2. That an Ekinoid home can be completely constructed within one week.
  3. An Ekinoid home can be easily joined to another Ekinoid home (via the stairwell); the stairwell will act as an common access to up to four Ekinoid homes.
  4. The Ekinoid home will be suitable for all land-based environments across the globe.
The frame around the staircase is designed to work with a hydroponic gardening set up.
All parts of an Ekinoid home will be designed to suit the local climate and terrain, and will be delivered on-site for fabrication. We think one crane (possibly two) and a team of approximately four people (one skilled, three unskilled) would be adequate for the one-week construction of each house; and after, these newly-skilled people (the new owners) might then help to build more Ekinoid homes, and train new owners. This training would, in principle, work exponentially and would therefore service the whole new community in a very short time.

All the land under the houses would remain useful and accessible.

This is a group of people working together to create a form of housing which can be built without the use of experts or special tools, homes which provide their own power and exist off the grid. The Ekinoid Project aims to create fast future housing that a couple of people can put together in a couple of days. I find myself imagining a near-future where my family finds an open field and builds a new community, not unlike the colonists at the end of Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, who spend a sci-fi amount of time creating a colony on a new planet. I love this idea, and can't wait to see where it goes. I'd live in an Ekinoid!

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  1. I love the concept of open-source or self-assembly housing but I'm not sure I'd want to live in a round house. I think it'd be impractical because most of the things designed to go inside houses are working on the assumption that you have flat walls.

    I'm also skeptical about the claim that they could be placed in currently inhospitable environments. The problem is that a lot of these places are inhospitable not because they're not good building land (people can and do build in the Sahara for example) but because they don't provide other basic needs. For example the hydroponic gardens around the stairwell will apparently be watered with run-off from the roof. Which should work in the UK most of the time (unless we have another rain-less summer like last year) but I can't see it having much success in a desert.

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  2. This might be kind of cool for habitat for humanity. In one week, 4 volunteers could have a home built for someone that's otherwise homeless. Being that's it's off the grid, that could help out the future home owner by not having utility bills. One less bill to pay, ya know?

    I like the idea. Not sure if I would live in one myself though because it looks incredibly small. As for the circular design, it's possible to place furniture in there. Methinks it would be a similar concept to furniture placement in yurts. =)

    • If I've understood their website correctly they've only build small-scale models so far, which could be why it looks small. Apparently the finished thing will be 32 feet in diameter and the main circle (middle floor) will have a surface area of 804 square feet, which is bigger than my entire flat. (And that's only one of 2 main floors in this thing.)

      If our basement could be used as a bedroom (it's big enough, but has no windows and is only fit for storage really) I could see a family of 3 or 4 living in our flat, so I have no problem believing they could live in one of these.

      Or it might be a matter of what you're used to because I, like the creator of these thingys am in the UK where a quick internet search tells me the average house is around 1000 square feet, whereas it's more than double that in the US.

      • I was going to say – the pictures of the copper model show it sitting on a table. I was confused – is this a dollhouse? I could totally live in 804 square feet. It looks awesome.

  3. Hmmm, how far away from the wall do you have to be to even be able to stand up straight?

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  4. Cool!

    I *love* the concept, especially if it comes in different models that allow easy customization. Basically, its affordable prefab taken to the next level.

    However….

    I think it being on stilts creates a HUGE liability issue to the 'built by average people' goal. What if it the stilts aren't put in correctly? What if it isn't assembled correctly? Who is responsible?

    Plus, as an interior designer, I'll agree that round spaces are *not* easy to work with. Generally, you are limited to built-ins, or you wind up with tons of dead space. (Like the treehouses featured on here before, I'd love to see the essentials come with the dome as an integral part of the design!)

    Definitely an interesting challenge!

  5. It's a neat idea, but I don't think it would work in cold climates. Utilities need to be below the frost level, and there is nothing to block the wind. Also, I would have a problem with non-professionals building the foundation.

    It would be fun if someone set some up as a hotel or bnb!

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