15 Oct 2016

WikiHouse: construction by the people for the people

From Saturday Morning, 8:40 am on 15 October 2016
A portal construction in the WikiLab.

A portal construction in the WikiLab. Photo: Spacecraft

WikiHouse is a concept for affordable, safe housing that people can build themselves. It's the work of Christchurch-based social enterprise Space Craft Systems, whose co-founders Martin Luff and Danny Squires are on a mission to revolutionise the way built environments are created.

They say the next industrial revolution will be how we build our homes.

The WikiHouse taps into the power that shared knowledge can bring, or ‘many hands, make light work’ in the age of digital connectedness.

The house slots together rather like a piece of flat pack furniture and is self-contained generating its own electricity and insulated for minimal heating and cooling costs.

Martin and Danny are also looking at onsite sewage processing to cut out the huge infrastructure costs associated with housing developments.

They say the public are an ignored asset when it comes to housing provision and the citizen sector can be unlocked if houses were constructed without traditional and expensive building skills.

“Currently the way we build our houses is very bespoke and doesn’t have the benefits of being producible and customisable like a car,” Danny says.

The WikiHouse combines some very old and new technology.

“It’s like a flat pack house with pieces all cut out of 19mm structural ply and it comes out like 3d jigsaw pieces that you slot together.”

The new technology is the digital 3d design and CNC cutting of the parts, but the joints which slot together go all the way back to the Egyptians.

The whole structure is put together using just a mallet.

“There are no power tools required it can be done by unskilled people. In some ways it’s potentially easier than that frustrating IKEA flat pack wardrobe,” Martin says.

The pair say the system not only makes building easier, it raises the build quality and the houses can be pre-consented rather than the present and cumbersome house-by-house basis.

Martin and Danny host two free day sessions at their Christchurch WikiLab – the first dedicated WikiHouse development space in the world – on Saturday 22 October. (This event is part of FESTA - Festival of Transitional Architecture)

Danny Squires and Martin Luff

Danny Squires and Martin Luff Photo: supplied