Design Principles

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Share global, manufacture local

‘It is easier to ship recipes than cakes and biscuits’ – John Maynard Keynes

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Be lazy like a fox

Don’t keep reinventing the wheel. Take something that already works, copy, adapt, give credit and re-share. (Thanks Linus Torvalds via Eric S Raymond)

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Design to lower thresholds

Design to lower barriers of time, cost, skill, energy and resources at every stage. Elvis Costello wrote all his songs to be played on the cheapest transistor radio.

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Share and make shareable

Publish your work under an open source sharealike licence, documented and codified so as to make it as easy as possible for others to understand, modify, improve, distribute and use it, including commercially.

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Open standards

Where possible, work to existing standards or seek to establish intuitive new ones.

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Open materials

Design for cheap, abundant, standardised, sustainable, and, ideally, circular materials.

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Human friendly

Seek to preserve and maximise the safety, security, health and wellbeing (physical and mental) of all participants at every stage of a product’s life.

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Start somewhere

No one can solve everyone’s problems. Design something that works where you are, then share so others can adapt it for their own economy, climate and culture. Let solutions adapt like Darwin’s finches.

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Design hardware and software that is robust, interoperable, product-agnostic and flexible, so elements can be independently altered, substituted or upgraded.

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Include, keep including

Look for ways in which age, race, gender or disability might be barriers, and try to design them out. Try to design products, processes and documents that are accessible, intuitive and non-discriminatory.

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The new ‘normal’

Avoid design which would be considered ‘alternative’, ‘boutique’ or only for the rich or poor. Instead, design for the new normal: products most people would consider desirable and affordable. As beautiful as Apple, as open as Linux.

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Mistake proof

Make it impossible to get wrong, or not matter if you do. (The Japanese call this 'Poka-Yoke')

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Whole life design

‘A home is not something you finish’ – Stewart Brand Design for the entire life-cycle of the product, from manufacturing to assembly, use, maintenance, adaptation, disassembly and re-use.

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Superpower the users

‘Give power to the fine tuners’ – Cedric Price. Afford as much power as possible to the end users, from procurement to privacy to electricity. Democracy is a design diagram.

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If you can’t mend it, you don’t own it.

Try to avoid ‘black box’ products. Try to make it easy for the user to learn how it works.

Our mission

  1. To put the design solutions for building low-cost, low-energy, high-performance homes into the hands of every citizen and business on earth.
  2. To use digitisation to make it easier for existing industries to design, invest-in, manufacture and assemble better, more sustainable, more affordable homes for more people.
  3. To grow a new, distributed housing industry, comprising many citizens, communities and small businesses developing homes and neighbourhoods for themselves, reducing our dependence on top-down, debt-heavy mass housing systems.