Not long ago families and neighbors contributed to the construction of a house. Today, Amish families still have barn raisings and build their home with the help of their community. In urban contexts, the best designs are limited to the wealthiest occupants. A few examples which come to mind are a single family residence in Chicago’s Lincoln Park designed by Tadao Ando which I walked by on my way
Figure 1 - Private Residence designed by Tadao Ando, Chicago Illinois
to my favorite taco joint, Del Seoul, probably 10 times before I investigated what was beyond the plain fifteen foot tall concrete wall. As it turns out, the home is not only an original Tadao Ando masterpiece, but a single family residence. Other examples, on a different scale and density are condos and hotels within the Trump Tower Chicago, or Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street tower in New York. All three of the aforementioned buildings are closed off to the public, and unless you can spare roughly $3,100 a month for a studio apartment, you most likely won’t get past the concierge.1 Alastair Parvin, co-creator of WikiHouse, on the other hand has begun a new architectural innovation strategy for the 100%.
Parvin, in his TED talk reminds us that architects typically design for 1% of the population, and follow a design strategy of “form follows finance.”2 On the flip side, lower income mass produced housing is a product of “one size fits all” design.2 WikiHouse was the catalyst for solving those two issues. The idea is that a person could build their own CNC machine, which could later build their own house, or portion of their house. As they acquire more financial freedom, or grow their family, they could, in turn, build onto their house.
Figure 2: A WikiHouse project under construction
1. Information courtesy of: http://www.cityrealty.com/nyc/financial-district/new-york-by-gehry-8-spruce-street/35081
2. Information courtesy of: http://www.ted.com/talks/alastair_parvin_architecture_for_the_people_by_the_people?language=en#t-36228
Figure 1 courtesy of: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chicago-house-by-tadao-ando-143333
Figure 2 courtesy of: http://wikihouserio.cc/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/wik_house_hub.jpg