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Wikihouse - Print your own house  RSS feed

 
Joe Proto
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I did a quick search on Permies.com forums and could find no reference to this amazing project that has been featured on TED. The wikihouse project (http://www.wikihouse.cc/) aims to make an open source house that can be constructed in a day with plans freely available to anyone. Essentially, you can download the digital plans, send it to a CNC machine to cut the pieces out and then assemble it yourself with the help of 1 to 2 other people. I truly think that this project directly ties into the spirit of the permaculture community and wanted to bring awarness to it. Please check out the wikihouse website listed above and the TED talk as well to get inspired. Please respond with your thoughts...

http://www.ted.com/talks/alastair_parvin_architecture_for_the_people_by_the_people.html
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I truly think that this project directly ties into the spirit of the permaculture


Hi Joe,

I don't want to sound negative, and perhaps other readers can shed light on my take, but in no way does a CNC machine and a "manufacture" house fit any concept of permaculture that I am aware of. Perhaps I am to old fashioned and a bit of a luddite, but this just seems to technology based to be a, earth based processes.

Regards,

jay
 
Joe Proto
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Hey Jay I respect your opinion but I hold the viewpoint that the word "Permaculture" represents a design principle/design philosophy that advocates for conservation of resources and nature, recycling, ingenuity and working with nature instead of against her. The wikihouse project, in my opinion, emulates Permaculture design principles through and through by intentional use of simple, yet effective modular building techniques. . The same type of techniques we see used in Permaculture when organizing a plot of land into zones of access, the ultimate goal is to maximize gains and minimize losses. Also one of the main design tenants on the wikihouse website is to "Design for materials and components which are reasonably cheap to buy, low-carbon and fully recyclable or biodegradable". Wikihouse also promotes the communal and social aspects of Permaculture by putting the means of production in the hands of the individual or community and relying on the community to design, collaborate and create.

I can understand your reservations about the use of a CNC milling machine but it allows for accurate and cheap fabrication and reduces waste. You can make a CNC milling machine for about $500-$2500 and use it for the rest of your life. For the cost of wood (free if harvested on site) and your labor you could assemble a house over the course of a day or so. The skill level involved is minimal and would probably be about as complicated as a giant IKEA furniture set. Now you could cheaply make housing for your family, friends and community. Wikihouse is only in the developmental stages but there is so much potential for truly trans-formative thinking in the way that our homes are built, potentially by ourselves with the support of the wider community.

I urge you to watch the TED talk.
 
allen lumley
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If this Idea excites you, and you live near Central Michigan Check out '' The Geek Group '' in Grand Rapids - A ' Hacker Space ' they have an Incredible
C.N.C. machine on premises, and someone there who can teach you how to set it up to run it Automatically !!- A house and new job skills ! Big Al
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Joe,

Thanks for replying. I hear, and since your enthusiasm, that I think is great, but as professional builder and restorationist of traditional architecture, particularly timber frames, I am well versed in the world of construction, good and bad. Now on some of your points.

I love the tenant of designing and building earth friendly and simple architecture, in reality Timberwrights (timber frame builders) have been doing that of over 3000 years. I agree you aren't going to build it in a day, more like 1 month in most cases. However, most things that are quick to do, are seldom enduring to the weathers of time.

I hold the viewpoint that the word "Permaculture" represents a design principle/design philosophy that advocates for conservation of resources and nature, recycling, ingenuity and working with nature instead of against her.
On this we are in complete agreement, what I saw in the video was not that by a long shot. I love the concept of sharing, I think the are trying there best to achieve a true open source concept. I also believe they may be doing a bit of that "reinventing the wheel." I often pick from speakers, such as the gentleman speaking about Wiki House, a very "first world," Anglo concept of how things are, or should be.

"Design for materials and components which are reasonably cheap to buy, low-carbon and fully recyclable or biodegradable"
Again, something that is "cheap" to buy, often does not last very long. Bought construction material are seldom low-carbon and the principles of recycling are being more closely examined in the entirety of their life cycle from end to new beginning, and research is showing that it has, in many cases the same embodied energy and carbon footprint as non recycled material. I am not saying don't recycle, I just noting that it is not necessarily that big a savings as we are often lead to believe.

On the matter of the Architect that was in the video, and many architects in general, often glaze over important details of their concepts and define thing from only their viewpoint or concept. Take being an architect for example, as he did. What he failed to mention when discussing that career is there rise in the industrial age of "white European male culture," was the move away from craftsmanship. Architects in general here in North America and in Europe have stopped being builders and expect to get paid for just designing, while in other cultures the designer and the builder are one in the same. I doing all my own designing and work closely with a number of other design build architects/designers, we work across the spectrum of economic class, and get paid for designing, yes but not until WE build it, not someone else.

I can understand your reservations about the use of a CNC milling machine but it allows for accurate and cheap fabrication and reduces waste.
I have not seen a CNC milling machine yet that actually in anyway reduces waste. Every industry that are using these machine primary motivation is marginalizing the human element (craftsmanship) and maximizing profits, be it automotive, electronic manufacturing and even my own industry of timber framing. I can speak to that from intimate knowledge they do not cut better frames than a humans only faster, and only with limited stock type material, they do not have the ability to discern nuanced elements of quality or character in the wood, nor can they tell the top of a tree from the bottom. That takes a craftsman. They most assuredly do not waste any less material in the process.

You can make a CNC milling machine for about $500-$2500 and use it for the rest of your life.
You will have to share more detail of where you built and operated a CNC machine that only cost $2500 dollars. My 3.5 horsepower router (minimum size required for large scale CNC work like Wiki House) cost about $800 dollars to $3000 dollars depending on quality and capacities. The price just keep climbing from there. I have helped build and service small scale CNC type machines, and there is a lot of tech that goes into them. I try real hard to be a luddite, obviously I'm not one. Most CNC machines that I know of, that could handle daily production of a Wiki Style structure, are going to cost between $8000.00 (absolute minimum owner build with strong tech and machines background) and $30000 (bought off the shelf CNC machine of Wiki house capacity.)

For the cost of wood (free if harvested on site) and your labor you could assemble a house over the course of a day or so.
Please don't think I am being too harsh, but there is not a once of accuracy in that sentence. Wood is never free, as a Native American, my grandmother taught me that. First the forest pays for it in resources for it to grow, next I pay (or should pay) with my labor and skill processing the tree into usable materials for it's next life. Your comment of free if harvested on site, must mean something that was not in the video about by TED about Wiki House, as they used mass produced sheet plywood, and this can not be effectively, ergonomically or environmentally produced on any forested site in the world. I would also note that plywood in general has a huge carbon footprint and the process is very land and forest intrusive, often coming from vast monolithically grown forests that are the same thing a s industrialized farming, and seldom good for the environment or planet. Plywood in general is a horrible product, great for BIG business, but not the environment. I haven't even got to the manufacturing process, what it is and does to planet, the waste and pollutants nor the shipping and reshipping of the different elements that goes into it.

In general, I love the energy behind "open source" thinking and manufacturing, unfortunately in this case, I think Wiki House has a long way to go before it gets someplace of value. I would also note that they are taking resources both monetary and intellectual away from other truly permaculture based architectural endeavors, such as Straw Bale, Cobb, Bamboo, and even my own craft of timber framing, which could really use the funding they are getting to train and revitalize the craft, there by putting it back in the hands of the common woman and man, so they could actually, as you said.

For the cost of wood (free if harvested on site) and your labor you could assemble a house over the course of a day or so...(more like a month)
 
Adam Klaus
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^^^ well said Jay. bravo.

I especially agree with your statement that-
"I would also note that they are taking resources both monetary and intellectual away from other truly permaculture based architectural endeavors, such as Straw Bale, Cobb, Bamboo, and even my own craft of timber framing, which could really use the funding they are getting to train and revitalize the craft, there by putting it back in the hands of the common woman and man."

The devil works in so many ways.... subtle ways....
Glad wise ones are here to speak up for truth on this Earth.
 
Joe Proto
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Jay you bring up some interesting points but I respectfully disagree with your analysis of the wikihouse project. I think we are running into differences in viewpoints on what Permaculture is in the same way that sepp holzer and Masanobu Fukuoka represent different viewpoints. Fukuoka advocates for "do nothing" farming and just lets nature take its course with minimal human interferrence while Holzer will be relatively harsh initially to set the groundwork for his projects by calling in heavy equipment to prep the land. I don't understand your comment that
I often pick from speakers, such as the gentleman speaking about Wiki House, a very "first world," Anglo concept of how things are, or should be.
because the wikihouse speaker contended that most of modern architecture is geared towards 2% or so of the worlds population and doesn't address the needs of the other 98% or so. Everyone needs a place to live and wikihouse represents a way to bring safe, reliable, economical housing to the masses while attempting to minimize environmental impact though a global conscious design effort. If wikihouse can achieve its goal of global cooperation then the design should not be based purely on
white European male culture
but rather the larger gloabl culture that exists. I respect your ability to build timber frame houses but that is most likely a trade you have been perfecting for many years and not something that is easily learned by a novice in a few days and may potentially require heavy machinery to lift the timbers. A home bulit the wikihouse way could potentially be built in a day or so and yes these homes may not last 100 years but they are so easy to make that its really not that big of an investment of time or resources. geoff lawton even uses prebuilt (factory) homes on his permaculture properties, he had a property for sale recently on geofflawton.com with such a building.

I wont debate the costs of materials with you as in reality nothing is "free", there is always a cost in terms of energy and resources, but if you harvest your own timber the economic cost is minimal. Also plywood is not the only material that can be used, its just what wikihouse is using during its development phase. Also I would contend that wikihouse is not a move away from craftsmanship but towards it... How many people actually build their own homes these days? Wikihouse embodies the spirit of the maker/craftsman/inventor/tinkerer communities and champions human ingenuity and cooperation.

You can find info on how to build your own CNC machines below, the cost will vary depending on how much you build it yourself or if you order a pre-made kit...

http://www.buildyourcnc.com/CNCMachineKits.aspx
http://www.buildyourcnc.com/blackFoot48v40.aspx

While our understandings of Permaculture may differ I believe that our love for this planet is the same. Thanks for keeping an open mind and actually watching the video!

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Adam Klaus, thank you very much for the "thumbs up," I do my best at staying on top of this "permaculture world" and all the different and diverse elements.

Even'n Joe,

Thanks for re engaging, even if we are "agreeing to disagree," we are doing a wonderful service to our readers for discussing the various aspects and viewpoints on a topic such as this. Warm regards for that, I do thank you for your time to debate the topic.

I think we are running into differences in viewpoints on what Permaculture is in the same way that Sepp Holzer and Masanobu Fukuoka represent different viewpoints.
This could very well be true, I wonder what others think?

...because the wikihouse speaker contended that most of modern architecture is geared towards 2% or so of the worlds population and doesn't address the needs of the other 98% or so. Everyone needs a place to live and wikihouse represents a way to bring safe, reliable, economical housing to the masses while attempting to minimize environmental impact though a global conscious design effort...
Because you wrote this, you must believe it, so I will do my best to give you the "Non White Anglo" perspective.
Wiki house is clearly a "European male culture" concept for the body of it's thinking, and there are two primary indicators for my observation of this truth as I see it. First, in a word, advanced technology (the CNC machine and all the technical and "moving parts" maintenance these machines need.) You simply are not going to run one of these effectively in any third world country or location, nor would they be applicable or "best practice," to do so. This is clearly and "industrial age" concept and modality, one of the reasons folks are losing the skill to create in the more "organic and natural" ways.

Second, commercial based product foundation i.e. PLYWOOD. As stated in my last post, there is nothing green about this "big business" manufactured product, not by a long shot. If this "Wiki house" is suppose to be for the "masses," or, as you state it, the "other 98%," where are they going to get the plywood from. They aren't going to buy it, it's way too expensive and only getting more so. They are not going to make it, plywood is a commodity of industrial big business, not the third world farmer, or permaculturist couple on 5 acres in rural Alaska, Guatemala, or Vermont. Most of these places have their own vernacular (and I must say from long experience) much more germane architectural styles and methodologies that have thousand of years of a "genetic memory" and "empirical truths" behind their practice and application to unseason, freshly harvested wood.

I respect your ability to build timber frame houses but that is most likely a trade you have been perfecting for many years and not something that is easily learned by a novice in a few days and may potentially require heavy machinery to lift the timbers.
You are correct, I have been a Timberwright for over 35 years, having started as an apprentice at age 14 with old order Amish Barnwrights, learning and perfecting my understanding of it, this is true. Now for learning it, you are incorrect, it can be learned in short order, if there was a facilitator that had a teaching background, as I do, not just a timber framing and building background. It is not difficult at all to learn or practice, and no you do not need heavy equipment. As I said, timber framing has been around for thousands of years, and heavy equipment has only been around for about 150 of them. The first 50 giant barns I helped restore and build, never even had power tools on the site, as they be of Amish origin.

A home built the wikihouse way could potentially be built in a day or so and yes these homes may not last 100 years but they are so easy to make that its really not that big of an investment of time or resources. Geoff Lawton even uses prebuilt (factory) homes on his permaculture properties, he had a property for sale recently on geofflawton.com with such a building.
Again, Joe, I'm not debating that some are trying to justify this approach and believe it is sustainable and of benefit, but once more, where is the 98% suppose to get the plywood for these structures, let alone the materials and resource to build and maintain a CNC machine? This is a 1% concept trying to justify selling it to the 98% world, and I don't just mean monetarily, I mean idealisticly.

How is this, and the resources it is consuming, both intellectual, human, and monetary, superior, or better than teaching a traditional craft more indicative and culturally based to the diverse regions of the world it is applied to. Timber, Earth and stone architecture has dominated human culture (still does in the majority of the world) way more than industrial based (first world 1% culture) ever has or will.

When I teach timber framing to students, both lay and professional, I often ask where, and for whom are most of the timber frames built in the world. The most common response is for the wealthing in America and Europe. This is not true, or even close to true. Japan for example has a timber frame and wood culture that is unbroken for over 2000 years, much of rural China and Korea still build with wood timber, stone and earth, as does Bhutan, India, Himalayas, and even the highlands of rural Madagascar. This is where the 98% live, and they don't have a need, want, desire or ability to really use a "plywood-technology base architecture," it's simply not realistic or applicable in their day to day lives. They could use a hand in preserving their cultural heritage from the onslaught of the industrial world trying to sell them something, and facilitators to learn and teach these ancient traditions which I have done my utmost to learn and preserve. This entire discourse between you and I has made me think of, on several occasions:

"give someone a fish and they will have a meal; teach them to fish, and they will eat for a lifetime." I teach fishing, Wiki house gives away a fish...

Also plywood is not the only material that can be used, its just what wikihouse is using during its development phase. Also I would contend that wikihouse is not a move away from craftsmanship but towards it... How many people actually build their own homes these days? Wikihouse embodies the spirit of the maker/craftsman/inventor/tinkerer communities and champions human ingenuity and cooperation.
Two points on this, at no time will they be able to apply their concept to individually harvest wood off of the woodlots, and forest that the "98%" have access to and be able to build a structure, especially one that will exceed the vernacular of most wood architecture cultures. If I know anything it is trees and the materials that come from them and this is without a doubt a wonderful concept, but not applicable to the 98% nor the "green" (and I mean unseasoned) wood that comes from their available resources. Second point, you are thinking as a "first worlder" Joe, and I'm not trying to be mean, rude or condescending; I see this in my students all the time. Most of the 98% build their own homes, or at a minimum play a vital role in their immediate environment. I think Wiki house concept is very intriguing and a "nifty trick" within the confines of "mechanized craftsmanship." It is also very much a reinvention of the wheel, as what I have seen built and teach to build of this type of "tab A into slot B," architecture has been and will continue to be a wonderful way to build, that is what timber framing is.

You can find info on how to build your own CNC machines below, the cost will vary depending on how much you build it yourself or if you order a pre-made kit...
Like I said before, I already know how, but where are the $500 dollar ones you mention that could productively build the Wiki style architecture, that could be built and maintained in the rural world of the 98%? That I would like to read about.


Warm Regards, I do enjoy the discussion.

jay
 
Allan Babb
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While I like the open source aspect of the project, I have to tentatively agree with Jay about the care for earth aspect of this project(even though I'm a white European male :p). I realize that there are shanty towns and towns even made of cardboard across the world, but using sheet goods that last 25 years even when pressure treated is not the way to go. Most houses built these days have a 50 year life expectancy, I can't see the wikihouses lasting half that. This has a large possibility of forcing people to be greater consumers of forests, which we can't really afford. Not to mention all the chemicals that go into making sheet "lumber". Teaching people how to build traditional housing would be a much better approach(earthen housing that lasts 1000+ years for example and there are plenty of houses built during the Tudor period that still exist). We, as 1st world nations, need to approach 3rd world standards, not the other way around. True craftsmen need to make a comeback.
 
Tom Gauthier
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Good Afternoon Jay,

I wanted to respond to a question you posed in your previous post ... I'm not sure anyone else caught it.

Joe wrote ... "I think we are running into differences in viewpoints on what Permaculture is in the same way that sepp holzer and Masanobu Fukuoka represent different viewpoints."
Jay responded ... This could very well be true, I wonder what others think?

To my way of thinking, one of the most important aspects of "permaculture" is that the processes (not just the results) should be sustainable. Even though sepp holzer has some very interesting ideas, I'm not sure how sustainable it is to use gigantic earth-moving equipment, with it's tremendous amount of embedded energy, powered by prodigious quantities of fossil fuels, to make massive changes to the structure of the landscape.

My feeling is that "permaculture" (permanent agriculture) means using the resources of particular area of land to feed & shelter ones self, ones family, and ones community, in such a way that the resources are naturally replenished. Humans (like any other creature) cannot live in a place without having some impact on that place, but we should try to make that impact as minimal as possible.

The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of Her.

Respectfully,
- Tom
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Allan,

Thank you so much for responding, I hope I have not presented myself as too harsh. I also did not want to sound to culturally biased or judgemental, so please forgive me if I came across that way. We all have our "thin spots," and one of mine is what seems to be a never ending "we (Anglo Culture) know what is best for you" mentality. I probably read too much into things sometimes, (please forgive) but I grew up in the south under the parentage of mixed race, and more often than not, I see things from the minority or "3rd world," perspective. Wiki House just happens to be another, in a long line of distractions from "real issues," without "real solutions." It's another, "Hey, isn't this great and niffty what we are doing, look how cool this could be and what great benefits it has the potential for."

My first response, in my head, was ya that is neat, but applicable? Not by a long shot. It might be great for some "trendy" urban-suburban type to be able to through one of these up in the back yard as a garden shed or extra room, but in NO WAY is this going to service folks in Haiti or other third world countries to solve housing issues. It just reeks of "big business" backing and overly dependent on technology with a lot of moving parts to break and be fixed by, more expensive big business products. Maybe in 500 to a 1000 years, (think Star Trek-which I love) this may have some application?


Dear Tom,

I could not agree with your words more, and I must confess I was a little taken aback by the comment of comparison between myself, sepp holzer and Fukuoka San-福岡 正信, whom my mother and grandmother met and followed, (I was just learning.) I hope I was being compared to Fukuoka San, and not Mr. Holzer, who I'm sure is a fine human, just not my style probably? Fuku San is one of the reasons I have learned to build most of the traditional folks style timbered, earth and stone houses of Japan, (Minka) and other parts of Asia and the Middle East. Thank you again for your care of the world and your kind words.

Warm Regards to all,

jay
 
Allan Babb
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hello Allan,

Thank you so much for responding, I hope I have not presented myself as too harsh. I also did not want to sound to culturally biased or judgemental, so please forgive me if I came across that way. We all have our "thin spots," and one of mine is what seems to be a never ending "we (Anglo Culture) know what is best for you" mentality. I probably read too much into things sometimes, (please forgive) but I grew up in the south under the parentage of mixed race, and more often than not, I see things from the minority or "3rd world," perspective.


I was born in Scotland, I am British by birth and my mother is German. You don't get more anglo saxon than me. I know what western civilization has done, and continues to do. I also live in Louisiana, so I know what you're talking about there too. Being a white male, I get to listen to a lot of it, even if it's not directed at me. The 3rd world is the majority of humans, which the 1st world continues to abuse, even if we're ignorant about it. Sustainability and ecofriendly are just advertising cliches these days and are becoming meaningless, they're the new "Extra Strength" and "New and Improved". Ah, consumerism, which the CNC built house promotes. I won't deny that it has a cool factor(and speaks to my inner geek), but that's all it has in my book. Seeing consumerism for what it is has to be one of the bigger benefits to learning permaculture.

What I'm saying is that you have no need to apologize. I was just joking, hence the ":p". Text does not do a good job of transmitting emotions.
 
Joe Proto
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Thanks for all the replies, I have enjoyed reading over them and think that there are a lot of good issues being raised. There is quite a bit of material since I last checked this post so I am going to generalize what I have interpreted from reading over the responses, please forgive me for not being overly specific.

I realize now that I should have clarified from the beginning that wikihouse is in the developmental phases and is not a mature project yet. This is important because its identity is not static, its goals and process are not set in stone and maybe I presented the organization as a discreet entity with set process and procedure. Wikihouse is a global effort and anyone can contribute to it, including anyone involved in this post. I think that a lot of what has been discussed in this post should be discussed on the wikihouse forums as well. I may consider posting a link to this post on the wikihouse forums to garner their feedback. One of wikihouse's main design tenants is to be environmentally conscious and that is commendable because a lot of modern design doesn't work from that mindset from the get go.

I have noticed through the responses of this post that there seems to be a hangup on the idea of using plywood, which I agree is not an environmentally sustainable product, but wikihouse is only in the developmental stages and the final material to be used is open for discussion. Another design principle that wikihouse uses is to design for the location that you are in
As a general rule, design for the climate, culture, economy and legal / planning framework in which you live, and you know best. Others will then be able to adapt the design to suit their environment.
Again I urge readers of this post to provide their input, especially on material selection, to the wikihouse forums as wikihouse is a global effort that seeks input from all.

Jay I think that is really neat that you have a connection to Fukuoka, I really respect his approach to farming, and would love to come to one of your timber framing courses as I admire that skill set.

I think most of all what I like about wikihouse is its design approach of leveraging the global knowledge by seeking input from all and making that information freely available. If you feel like your viewpoint is not being represented then you must speak up and contribute to the democratic process that is wikihouse.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Joe,

Thank you much for that last entry. I wish Wiki house all the best and hope you stay involved with it. If there is anything I can do to help nurture Wiki Houses "core mission," or support your endeavors in green architecture, please feel free to contact me. Your last entry clarified things much better for me. Once they move past this notion of CNC and plywood, I would like to help more, if I am able.

Warm Regards,

jay
 
Christian McMahon
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I checked out the wikihouse idea after reading this post. My first impression is it really isn't that affordable. You can make a CNC machine like the Blackfoot 4x8 or the greenBull. I plan to make one of these perhaps. However the place where you get killed is the boards. $48.00 each for a plywood board that is 1" thick. If you need seventy count, your spending $3360.00 per room. That room isn't as good as cob, Earthbag, or even adobe brick as far as energy savings and it still needs coverings and insulation. I cannot fault the project for not having the proper attitude for the future. At this point in their progress I would rather build an Earthbag Domicile.
 
Joe Proto
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Christian that is a great break down of cost per room in using sheet material. Have you had success in building an earthbag house? If so how large of a structure have you built? Did you have any permitting issues?
 
Brian Knight
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This is an interesting read that resembles any discussion about Society and Technology. Obviously, we are a long ways off from 3d printing entire homes but I think Joe is right in that the idea has a place in permaculture. While a fully printed home may never become reality, I bet we are close to having some type of "home" that is entirely printed from different components. Windows, doors and even some timber frame packages already see quite a bit of CNC fab. Predicting the future of technology is tricky business as is debating the merits of any particular methods of sustainability. There are many paths, and if the entire society were to follow the same one we would all walk off the cliff together.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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some timber frame packages already see quite a bit of CNC fab.
This is true Brian, and among many timberwrights, we think it is often not done very well, as there is very little heart and soul left in the "product," and that what these machines manufacture, "product," not craftsmanship, and artistry. I can only think of a handful of timber frame companies in the world that have managed to maintain some semblance of tradition in their CNC cut frames by augmenting them with hand finishing and had jointed components. This is very much the exception not the rule with modern CNC products. I guess like so many things that are culture based, there will always be a spectrum of views. For me personally I see little value in most corporations and much of technology that actually consumes more than it produces, I think this has little to do with permaculture. It makes me think of the difference between the "city mouse and country mouse."

Regards,

jay
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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some timber frame packages already see quite a bit of CNC fab.
This is true Brian, and among many timberwrights, we think it is often not done very well, as there is very little heart and soul left in the "product," and that's what these machines manufacture, "product," not craftsmanship, and artistry. I can only think of a handful of timber frame companies in the world that have managed to maintain some semblance of tradition in their CNC cut frames by augmenting them with hand finishing and had jointed components. This is very much the exception not the rule with modern CNC products. I guess like so many things that are culture based, there will always be a spectrum of views. For me personally I see little value in most corporations and much of technology that actually consumes more than it produces, I think this has little to do with permaculture. It makes me think of the difference between the "city mouse and country mouse."

Regards,

jay
 
rodney johnson
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Location: canada ontario
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Most of what there doing and saying is from ignorance in there time line, everyone is born into a time line, what came before your timeline falls into ignorance, our measurement of tech and intelligence is based on accumulative second-hand information that is stored, we have to accept the information rinse and repeat to graduate the measurable time line of intelligence.

Most are victims of circumstance of the ideal idea way to live. A house was never to be long lasting yes people call it an investment part of the construct of a concept of the ideal idea in the time line were born into.

Ignorance is natural to nature and we continue to rinse and repeat a learning curve of patterns to fit an ideal idea, there only ideas concepts constructs.

Things we need to bring into our acceptance is our own ignorance next we need to focus on "KISS" keep it simple silly. Another ignorance I see is "create" we do not create. we only manipulate, we can be creative.
Being older in a different time line the words were "natural" and "man-made". We nurture nature through manipulation by being creative, we do not create nature.

Were in a time line that is way off balance, People are raised for the sheer construct of an ideal idea, manipulated and used by others. Ignorance is a key and keyhole for the future in accepting a difference for change and balance.
 
Andrew Ray
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Personally, I think this has an aspect of "when all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

I suspect it is an exciting challenge for some people to figure out different ways to use the structural properties of plywood (a so-called "engineering material" do to its uniformity) to make something like a house. Note that it even includes plywood mallets in the design. Perhaps in a way to them it is beautifully simple for everything to be made just from 18mm plywood. And I am sure there is something fascinating to be able to go from SketchUp to click "print" and have (after a while) sheets of plywood perfectly cut into the parts for a house frame.

But, as Jay and others pointed out, plywood isn't exactly cheap. And, as far as simple one story structures go that need to be made quickly, I'm not really seeing what's so difficult about cutting 2x4's to make frames-- it isn't exactly rocket science.

There is a group in Atlanta (and I think elsewhere in the U.S.) called "The Mad Housers" who make simple shed-like structures for the homeless from 2x4 framing, asphalt shingles and OSB sheathing. Nothing terrible eco-friendly/trendy, but its a step up from cardboard boxes. They assemble panels in a workshop (I helped out a few times in college) and then the panels get laid flat on a pickup and driven to the build site to be set up quickly, something often needed to avoid drawing unwanted attention to the location of the homeless camp in various run down parts of Atlanta. The panels are made by volunteers, some of whom have never seen a circular saw and barely held a hammer before coming there from wood donated by contractors with left overs.

I could see this sort of rapidly assembled housing being useful in such situations, but I don't think it could be cost effective compared to their current approach of using volunteer labor and a few hand / power tools.

Maybe also kits from plywood like this could be good for emergency shelters to be sent as disaster relief, but that's about the only case I can imagine for it.

Also, this approach does not have the possibility to lend itself to non-industrially produced materials. There are perhaps alternative sheet goods to plywood (though I can't think of what would have comparable strength), but none that could made without a huge capital investment in machinery that would dwarf whatever cost is involved in the CNC router.
 
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