Open-source architecture

Open-source architecture (OSArc) is an emerging paradigm that advocates new procedures in imagination and formation of virtual and real spaces within a universal infrastructure. Drawing from references as diverse as open-source culture, modular design, avant-garde architectural theory, science fiction, language theory, and neuro-surgery, it adopts an inclusive approach as per spatial design towards a collaborative use of design and design tools by professionals and ordinary citizen users. The umbrella term citizen-centered design harnesses the notion of open-source architecture, which in itself involves the non-building architecture of computer networks, and goes beyond it to the movement that encompass the building design professions, as a whole.


Citizen-centered design was spearheaded in 1999 by academic research in leading universities, such as the University of Texas (SUPA)[1] and professional practice organizations, such as the Earthnomad Foundation[2] and ARK Tectonics,[3] to position the citizen-centered design movement at the intersection of design and public policy. In the decades that followed, the movement grew to encompass various efforts around the globe, from organizations and collaborations to community design centers sponsored by academic institutions. The principles of the citizen-centered design movement and by extension, open-source architecture, were built on the body of knowledge accumulated since the 1960s on citizen participation research and practices.

Around the turn of the century, citizen engagement research and practices were reformulated through the lens of more effective approaches and paradigms in the social and applied sciences, through the seminal work of Dr. Schaban-Maurer (2013), architect, urban planner and author of the deliberative design and phronetic engagement resource "Rise of the Citizen Practitioner"[4] Dr. Schaban-Maurer laid out the principles and precepts of his 'Life-Experience Narrative Exchange' methodology in the Mindful Policy Engagement field, which he founded in 2013, with the ground-breaking work 'The Roles of the Citizen Practitioner in Citizen Engagement for Architecture, Urban Design and Urban Planning Policy: A Phronesis-Based Approach"[5] The work provides rigorous theoretical basis for a body of best case studies and best practices of citizen-centered architecture, urban design and urban planning, as well as, urban and public policy. According to Dr. Schaban-Maurer, the (LENE) methodology leads to meaningful and effective design practices by integrating their processes with the principles of Phronetic Engagement and Mindful Policy into a new field of inquiry; 'Mindful Policy Engagement.' (Schaban-Maurer, 2013: 11)[6]

Since then, open-source architecture practitioners and academics have increased the reach and influence of the citizen-centered design movement to other fields through inter-disciplinary collaborations, publications, conferences, and international exhibitions. In the last decade, open-source architecture, the mindful policy engagement field and the citizen-centered design movement have spawned smaller, derivative subsets of various names, most prominent of which is 'social impact design', 'public interest design' and the 'open architecture network' whose adherents combine design practice with social service. These early efforts, decades ago, are being propelled forward by new sensibilities through the continued commitment of architects, urban designers, planners, policy-makers and other stakeholders to engage and harness the knowledge of ordinary citizens in the design, development and implementation of urban policies, for projects that impact the very communities where we all live and work.

Cooking is often hailed as an early form of open source; vernacular architecture – producing recipes for everyday buildings – is another form of early lo-fi open-source culture, openly sharing and optimising technologies for building.


New economic models, exemplified by incremental microdonations and crowd-funding strategies like Sponsume and Kickstarter, offer new modes of project initiation and development, destabilising the traditionally feudal hierarchy of client/architect/occupant. Financing of private projects increasingly moves to the public domain, offering mass rather than singular ownership, whereas funding of public projects can be derived from more flexible, responsive frameworks than simple levies or taxation. Open-source architecture should have particular appeal for builders entirely outside the mainstream economy, such as squatters, refugees and the military.


Open-source architecture relies upon amateurs as much as experienced professionals, the "genius of the mass" as much as that of the individual,[7] eroding the binary distinction between author and audience. Like social software, it recognises the core role of multiple users at every stage of the project – whether as clients or communities, designers or occupants; at its best, it harnesses powerful network effects to scale systems effectively. It is typically democratic, enshrining principles of open access and participation, though political variations range from stealth authoritarianism to communitarian consensualism.

Traditional developments require engagement programmes in which the 'community' is 'consulted' with respect to incoming developments, often with blunt tools such as focus groups, which often result in lack of representation and input, or at worst can result in NIMBYism. With crowd-funded models, forms of engagement are built into the process, enabling a kind of emergent urbanism, in which use of space is optimised on terms set by its users. This reclamation of people's power can be seen as a soft, spatial version of Hacktivism. Open-source architecture is likely to suffer some of the organizational drawbacks of open-source software, such as forking of projects, abandoned projects, the emergence of cliques and incompatibility with the installed base of buildings. Organized campaigns of fear, uncertainty and doubt are probable.


An important aspect of open-source architecture is the emergence of open standards of collaboration. The establishment of common, open, modular standards (such as the grid proposed by the OpenStructures project[8] addresses the problem of hardware compatibility and the interface between components, allowing collaborative efforts across networks in which everyone designs for everyone [9]. The establishment of universal standards also encourages the growth of networks of non-monetary exchange (knowledge, parts, components, ideas) and remote collaboration.


Mass customisation replaces standardisation as algorithms enable the generation of related but differentiated species of design objects. Parametric design tools like Grasshopper, GenerativeComponents, Revit and Digital Project enable new user groups to interact with, navigate and modify the virtual designs, and to test and experience arrays of options at unprecedented low cost – recognizing laypeople as design decision making agents rather than just consumers. Open-source codes and scripts enable design communities to share and compare information and to collectively optimise production through modular components, accelerating the historical accumulation of shared knowledge. BIM (Building Information Modelling) and related collaboration tools and practices enable cross-disciplinary co-location of design information and integration of a range of platforms and timescales. Rapid prototyping and other 3D printing technologies enable instant production of physical artefacts, both representational and functional, even at an architectural scale, to an ever-wider audience.

There are severe criticisms of the use of currently popular design software, however, because of the impossibility of future residents and users to access them. P2P Urbanism promotes low-tech design solutions that collect traditionally-derived design knowledge and makes it available on an open-source web platform. This focus instead promotes traditional local materials and building techniques in vernacular architecture and is entirely distinct from that of the virtual design groups focusing upon the extremely expensive parametric design. The proponents of P2P Urbanism also philosophically oppose what they see as "fashionable" design approaches because of a link to unsustainable products, strong commercial interests, and total control by only a few participants—which is the opposite of opening up design to the whole population. In their view the point of open-source design should be to facilitate users designing and building their own dwellings, not to continue promoting a design elite that includes current starchitects.


The burgeoning open-source hardware movement enables sharing of and collaboration on the hardware involved in designing kinetic or smart environments that tightly integrate software, hardware, and mechanisms. Through these various tools, informed by sensor data, design becomes an ongoing, evolutionary process, as opposed to the one-off, disjointed fire-and-forget method of traditional design. This is an acknowledgement of the fact that design has always been an unending process, as well as a collaboration between users and designers. Operating systems for the design, construction and occupancy phases become possible, created as open platforms stimulating a rich ecosystem of 'apps'. Various practices jostle to become the Linux of architectural software, engaging in 'platform plays' at different scales rather than delivery of plans and sections. Embedded sensing and computing increasingly mesh all materials within the larger "Internet of things", evolving ever closer towards Bruce Sterling's vision of a world of Spimes. Materials communicate their position and state during fabrication and construction, aiding positioning, fixing and verification, and continue to communicate with distributed databases for the extent of their lifetime.


Today’s OSArc enables inhabitants to control and shape their personal environment – “to Inhabit is to Design”, as John Habraken put it. This aspect is enhanced by today’s fully sentient networked spaces, constantly communicating their various properties, states and attributes – often through decentralised and devolved systems. Crucial system feedback is supplied by a wide range of users and occupants, often either by miniature electronic devices or mobile phones – crowdsourcing (like crowd-funding) large volumes of small data feeds to provide accurate and expansive real-time information. Personalisation replaces standardisation as spaces 'intelligently' recognise and respond to individual occupants. Representations of spaces become as vital after construction as they are before; real-time monitoring, feedback and ambient display become integral elements to the ongoing life of spaces and objects. Maintenance and operations become extended inseparable phases of the construction process; a building is never "complete" in open-source architecture's world of growth and change.

If tomorrow’s buildings and cities will be like "computers to live in" (see also: smart city) open-source architecture provides an open, collaborative framework for writing their operating software in real world conditions reflecting the principles of the citizen-centered architecture movement, as well as, the mindful policy engagement field, namely, unique designs for unique contexts, reflecting individual users' values through value rational planning and engagement-based praxis.

See also

External links

Open-source architecture license

Open-source architecture platforms

Open-source construction system

Open-source architecture individual project

Open-source inspired architecture studio

Other lists of open source architecture projects


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  9. ^ C. Priavolou, "The Emergence of Open Construction Systems: A Sustainable Paradigm in the Construction Sector?", Journal of Futures Studies 23(2), pp. 67-84 (2018).


  • Various authors, Open Source Architecture, Domus 948 (June 2011)
  • Sterling, B. 'Beyond the Beyond’ Blog on Wired Magazine
  • Habraken, J. 1972, Supports – An Alternative to Mass Housing, London (The Architectural Press), ISBN 978-1872811031
  • Leadbeater, C. 2008, We-think: The Power of Mass Creativity, London (Profile Books), ISBN 978-1861978929
  • Botson, R. and Rogers, R. 2010, What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, New York City (HarperCollins), ISBN 978-0061963544
  • P2P Urbanism, webpage at the P2P Foundation
  • Salingaros, N. A. 2010, "P2P Urbanism"
  • Shepard, M. (editor), 2011, Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space, Boston (MIT Press), ISBN 978-0262515863
  • Price, C., Banham, R., Barker, P. and Hall, P., 1969, 'Non Plan: an experiment in freedom' in New Society (338)
  • Kelly, K. 1994, Out of Control: the rise of neo-biological civilization, New York City (Perseus Books), ISBN 978-0201483406
  • Open Building Network – Working Commission W104 ‘Open Building Implementation’ of the CIB – The International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (meets in a different country every year since its first meeting in Tokyo in 1994)
  • Nettime mailing lists: mailing lists for networked cultures, politics, and tactics,
  • Kaspori, D. 2003, ‘A Communism of Ideas: towards an architectural open source practice’ in Archis,
  • Haque, U. 2003–05 Open Source Architecture Experiment,
  • The University of Texas at Arlington, School of Urban and Public Affairs '[1]'
  • Fuller, M. and Haque, U. 2008, ‘Urban Versioning System 1.0’ in Situated Technologies Pamphlet Series, New York City (Architectural League of New York)
  • Kent Larson, Stephen Intille, T.J. McLeish, Jennifer Beaudin, and R.E. Williams, Open Source Building: Reinventing Places of Living, July 15, 2004.
  • B. Schaban-Maurer, Rise of the Citizen Practitioner: A Phronesis-Based Approach to Citizen Engagement and Social Policy , December 27, 2013.
  • B. Schaban-Maurer, The roles of the citizen practitioner in citizen engagement for architecture, urban design, and planning policy: A Phronesis-based approach , January 31, 2013.
  • A github repository listing many resources on Open source architecture

CiteSeerx (originally called CiteSeer) is a public search engine and digital library for scientific and academic papers, primarily in the fields of computer and information science. CiteSeer holds a United States patent # 6289342, titled "Autonomous citation indexing and literature browsing using citation context," granted on September 11, 2001. Stephen R. Lawrence, C. Lee Giles, Kurt D. Bollacker are the inventors of this patent assigned to NEC Laboratories America, Inc. This patent was filed on May 20, 1998, which has its roots (Priority) to January 5, 1998. A continuation patent was also granted to the same inventors and also assigned to NEC Labs on this invention i.e. US Patent # 6738780 granted on May 18, 2004 and was filed on May 16, 2001. CiteSeer is considered as a predecessor of academic search tools such as Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search. CiteSeer-like engines and archives usually only harvest documents from publicly available websites and do not crawl publisher websites. For this reason, authors whose documents are freely available are more likely to be represented in the index.

CiteSeer's goal is to improve the dissemination and access of academic and scientific literature. As a non-profit service that can be freely used by anyone, it has been considered as part of the open access movement that is attempting to change academic and scientific publishing to allow greater access to scientific literature. CiteSeer freely provided Open Archives Initiative metadata of all indexed documents and links indexed documents when possible to other sources of metadata such as DBLP and the ACM Portal. To promote open data, CiteSeerx shares its data for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons license.The name can be construed to have at least two explanations. As a pun, a 'sightseer' is a tourist who looks at the sights, so a 'cite seer' would be a researcher who looks at cited papers. Another is a 'seer' is a prophet and a 'cite seer' is a prophet of citations. CiteSeer changed its name to ResearchIndex at one point and then changed it back.

Eran Neuman

Dr. Eran Neuman (born 1968 in Petah Tikva) is an Israeli architect and architectural historian and was appointed as Director of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem in January 2017 yet stepped down in April of that year. Under Neuman’s directorship, the Azrieli School of Architecture emerged as one of Israel’s leading architectural schools. At the school, Neuman created programs to foster professional training and scholarship, developed new academic centers and resources, and spearheaded fundraising initiatives. Neuman is also the founder of the Azrieli Architectural Archive at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the co-founder of Open Source Architecture (OSA), an international research collaborative.

Free-culture movement

The free-culture movement is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify the creative works of others in the form of free content or open content without compensation to, or the consent of, the work's original creators, by using the Internet and other forms of media.

The movement objects to what they consider over-restrictive copyright laws. Many members of the movement argue that such laws hinder creativity. They call this system "permission culture."Creative Commons is an organization started by Lawrence Lessig which provides licenses that permit sharing and remixing under various conditions, and also offers an online search of various Creative Commons-licensed works.

The free-culture movement, with its ethos of free exchange of ideas, is aligned with the free and open-source-software movement.

Today, the term stands for many other movements, including open access (OA), the remix culture, the hacker culture, the access to knowledge movement, the Open Source Learning, the copyleft movement and the public domain movement.

Freedom U540

The Freedom U540 is a microprocessor using the RISC-V open source architecture that is used to power the HiFive Unleashed computer. The U540 is one of the first commercially available microprocessors to use the RISC-V architecture, which is in contrast to the majority of the market, which uses mostly proprietary x86 and ARM microarchitectures. As the U540 was designed specifically for the HFU, it is not available on other devices or as a standalone component.

The U540 is compatible with Coreboot.

Geraldine Juarez

Geraldine Juárez (born 1977) is a Mexican visual artist.

Magnolia (CMS)

Magnolia is an open-source content management system (CMS). It is developed by Magnolia International Ltd., based in Basel, Switzerland. It is based on Content repository API for Java (JSR-283).


OGP may refer to:

International Association of Oil & Gas Producers, a global forum for petroleum producers

Open Graph Protocol, enables web developers to integrate their pages into Facebook's social graph.

Open Graphics Project, open source architecture and standard for graphics cards

Open Government Partnership, an international organization launched in 2011

Open-design movement

The open-design movement involves the development of physical products, machines and systems through use of publicly shared design information. This includes the making of both free and open-source software (FOSS) as well as open-source hardware. The process is generally facilitated by the Internet and often performed without monetary compensation. The goals and philosophy of the movement are identical to that of the open-source movement, but are implemented for the development of physical products rather than software. Open design is a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users, rather than an external stakeholder such as a private company.

Open-door academic policy

An open-door academic policy, or open-door policy, is a policy if a university accepting to enroll students without asking for evidence of previous education, experience, or references. Usually, payment of the academic fees (or financial support) is all that is required to enroll.

Universities may not employ the open-door policy for all their courses, and those that have a universal open-door policy where all courses have no entry requirements are called open universities. The policy is seen to be a part of the educational revolution. From the dictionary meaning of the open-door policy, which is the idea of granting access to those who want access to the country freely, a similar idea can be drawn in terms of education.According to Deepa Rao, the open-door academic policy is one of the main ways in which adult learners become a part of university/college life. The recognized demand for post-secondary education made many institutions commit strongly to the policy, but many concealed limitations in the policy can prevent some from securing a degree.

Open Architecture Network

Open Architecture Network was a free online, open source community dedicated to improving global living conditions through innovative and sustainable design. It was developed by Architecture for Humanity.

Open Source Enterprise

The Open Source Enterprise (OSE) is a United States Government organization dedicated to open-source intelligence that was established by Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Open Source (ADDNI/OS), Eliot A. Jardines.

Open admissions

Open admissions, or open enrollment, is a type of unselective and noncompetitive college admissions process in the United States in which the only criterion for entrance is a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance or General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

Open collaboration

Open collaboration is "any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and noncontributors alike." It is prominently observed in open source software, but can also be found in many other instances, such as in Internet forums, mailing lists and online communities. Open collaboration is also thought to be the operating principle underlining a gamut of diverse ventures, including bitcoin, TEDx, and Wikipedia.Open collaboration is the principle underlying peer production, mass collaboration, and wikinomics. It was observed initially in open source software, but can also be found in many other instances, such as in Internet forums, mailing lists, Internet communities, and many instances of open content, such as creative commons. It also explains some instances of crowdsourcing, collaborative consumption, and open innovation.Riehle et al. define open collaboration as collaboration based on three principles of egalitarianism, meritocracy, and self-organization. Levine and Prietula define open collaboration as "any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and noncontributors alike." This definition captures multiple instances, all joined by similar principles. For example, all of the elements — goods of economic value, open access to contribute and consume, interaction and exchange, purposeful yet loosely coordinated work — are present in an open source software project, in Wikipedia, or in a user forum or community. They can also be present in a commercial website that is based on user-generated content. In all of these instances of open collaboration, anyone can contribute and anyone can freely partake in the fruits of sharing, which are produced by interacting participants who are loosely coordinated.

An annual conference dedicated to the research and practice of open collaboration is the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (OpenSym, formerly WikiSym). As per its website, the group defines open collaboration as "collaboration that is egalitarian (everyone can join, no principled or artificial barriers to participation exist), meritocratic (decisions and status are merit-based rather than imposed) and self-organizing (processes adapt to people rather than people adapt to pre-defined processes)."

Open source

Open source is a term denoting that a product includes permission to use its source code, design documents, or content. It most commonly refers to the open-source model, in which open-source software or other products are released under an open-source license as part of the open-source-software movement. Use of the term originated with software, but has expanded beyond the software sector to cover other open content and forms of open collaboration.

Open source (disambiguation)

Open source is the concept of the information allowing the replication or modification of something being open to the public.

Open source may also refer to:

Open-source license

Open-source model

Open-source software

Open university

An open university is a university with an open-door academic policy, with minimal or no entry requirements. Open universities may employ specific teaching methods, such as open supported learning or distance education. However, not all open universities focus on distance education, nor do distance-education universities necessarily have open admission policies.

P2P Foundation

P2P Foundation: The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives is an organization with the aim of studying the impact of peer to peer technology and thought on society. It was founded by Michel Bauwens, James Burke and Brice Le Blévennec.The P2P Foundation is a registered institute founded in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its local registered name is: Stichting Peer to Peer Alternatives, dossier nr: 34264847.


WikiHouse is an open-source project for designing and building houses. It endeavours to democratise and simplify the construction of sustainable, resource-light dwellings. The project was initiated in the summer of 2011 by Alastair Parvin and Nick Ierodiaconou of 00, a London-based strategy and design practice, in collaboration with Tav of Espians, James Arthur now with 00 and Steve Fisher of Momentum Engineering. It was launched at the Gwangju Design Biennale in Gwangju, South Korea. The project has since grown to become a worldwide community of contributors.


X# is an open source development language for Microsoft .NET, based on the xBase language. It comes in different flavours, such as Core, Visual Objects, Vulcan.NET, xBase++, Harbour, Foxpro and more. X# has been built on top of Roslyn, the open source architecture behind the current Microsoft C# and Microsoft Visual Basic compilers.

The XSharp compiler is a compiler intended to support multiple dialects in the xBase programming language family. The project is intended as an opensource community effort, but is at the moment still partly closed source.

Because the XSharp compiler is based upon the Roslyn compiler for C#, new language constructs are available in all supported dialects.

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