Open Architecture Network

What global housing crisis?

  • One billion people live in abject poverty.
  • Four billion live in fragile but growing economies.
  • One in seven live in slum settlements.
  • By 2030 it will be one in three.

Too often, humanitarian and developmental assistance falls short or fails. While technological advancements have been made in almost every other facet of life, development and aid agencies implement construction projects with technologies that are “known” or easily available rather than exploring more appropriate materials or technologies. Structures made from cement block and corrugated metal roofing prevail, while more innovative and equally affordable building methods go untried. Often times these ubiquitous structures are built on mass by well-intention-ed governments and NGOs in areas with high risk of natural disaster further compounding the problem.

What is needed is not one solution but millions of solutions.

What can we do about it?

By embracing open-source technology and removing barriers to the improvement, distribution, and implementation of well-designed solutions, we can, more than ever before, ensure that communities in need receive innovative, sustainable and, most importantly, dignified shelter. Since the mid-1990s, the sharing of information and technology has steadily gained popularity in the high-tech and arts communities. Why not adopt this approach in the area of humanitarian reconstruction and long-term development?

Since winning the TED Prize in March we’ve been working with a number of technology companies to develop just such a community: an open source architecture network.

What is the Open Architecture Network?

The Open Architecture Network will be a gathering place for community designers and all those interested in improving the built environment. Here designers of all persuasions can post their projects, browse projects posted by others, comment and review projects, discuss relevant topics, contribute to shared resources, collaborate with each other and access project management tools to support their work. Designers work will be protected by a licensing system developed by Creative Commons. This will enable designers to share their work freely, while protecting their intellectual property rights and sheilding them from unwarranted uses of their design.

We imagine a site that not only helps create, support and implement ideas, but also a place that fosters sustainable, replicable, adaptable and scalable design solutions. The network has a simple mission: to generate design opportunities that will improve living standards for all.

Who is supporting the Open Architecture Network?

Architecture for Humanity is indebted to the following partners and the entire TED community for helping us to realize this ambitious undertaking:

  • Creative Commons
  • Galloway Media Group
  • Hot Studio
  • Jenner & Block
  • Dean and Anne Ornish
  • Sapling Foundation
  • Sun Microsystems
  • ..and others

How you can help:

We want to launch in 2007 so help us get it done. Support the Network. Donate and help us meet the Sapling Foundation’s $125,000 matching grant. Please put “Open Architecture Network” in the designation field, so we can direct your gift.

Beta Testers are also needed. Beta Testing will involve exploring the development site of the Open Architecture Network, seeding content and reporting bugs. Interested?

“We still need to address not just aesthetics, but also the big issues like ease of installation,
cost, and adaptability. To get there we need an approach that brings together Nigerian designers,
with those on the cutting edge of design for the developing world. Architecture for Humanity
and Design for Change are inspiring examples. Collaborative design over the internet is tremendously powerful, and likely the best way forward.”

Omar Yaqub, Vestergaard Frandsen Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria


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