Paperhouses: Architecture in Open Source

Architecture / Culture / Editorial / Open Source

Why can’t we all just give along?

Information has always been freely available to those seeking it. It hasn’t been since the coining of “intellectual property” that these ideas became monetized by impressions rather than conversion (to borrow web marketing jargon), and it wasn’t until information gained the horsepower of the internet that we started to talk about the value of an open source community.

Many who work in art and design balk at the idea of open sourcing creative work (as if technology doesn’t require creativity) because they believe it undermines their only profit center: authorship. This determination does not hold however, when you look at how open sourcing has thrived in the development of internet technology, which has generated a multi-billion dollar industry with proper attributions. Some will argue technology won the economy at the expense of the arts, but call us skeptical.

Architecture has been at once the worst culprit and biggest victim of closed sourcing, because as an art form it is meant to be manipulated by its users, but as a technology it is a prohibitively priced skill set. It wants to be universal and benefit from copyright at the same time.

The problem is that in truth, all architecture does and should aim to be a locus of free open source technology. Architecture breathes within community, it participates actively with the nature around it, and can always be modified. It is not fine art. It is not pre-destined to relic status. It is and always was a technology. In fact for most of modernity, it was a technology developed by oppressive religious and civic regimes. Why should capitalism render it even harder to obtain?

Architecture deserves in every sense, to be as approachable and diverse and mutable and ever beautiful to people in as open a way as the internet has rendered all of design technology.

Ideas are not priceless but they are invaluable.