Last year, I came across this article about an open source project to design and develop low-cost versions of 50 industrial machines essential to modern civilization. Dubbed the "Global Village Construction Set", these tools provide all of the equipment necessary to build a village and maintain a small-scale economy almost anywhere in the world. The project's founder, Marcin Jakubowski, came up with the idea to make major industrial tools more affordable and accessible by developing and sharing simple, modular designs online for free. If you haven't seen his Ted Talk about the Open Source Ecology project, check it out here:
Now the Open Source Ecology project is using its knowledge of low-cost manufacturing and construction to break down barriers to affordable housing. Nominated in the 2012 Living Labs Global Awards, the OSE has submitted a microhouse design for the competition to produce mass smart and low-cost housing units for Lagos, Nigeria.
Tools from OSE's Global Village Construction Set can be used to construct compact, low-cost, easy-to-build houses using locally available raw materials. Starting with a footprint of 45 square meters (484 square feet), the houses are modular by design, allowing them to be connected to produce multifamily units or to be added on to later for larger single-family homes.
With an estimated housing shortage of 5 million homes, Lagos is in need of innovative housing solutions. OSE's modular microhouse provides a promising option with a basic design that can be mass produced at a low cost. The project also hopes that the use of its open source industrial machinery could help to empower residents to build and maintain their own communities while also creating jobs that stimulate the local economy.
~ Allison Bullock