How to Open Source Architecture

Dear architect,
Did you create an extraordinary project? Do you think might benefit your fellow architects? Are you willing to share your talent?

Many open-source projects began just with an “itch”, quoting Eric Raymond’s “Cathedral and Bazaar”:

“Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch.”

Maybe your project will be built somewhere, maybe you’ve got paid to do the work, but once it’s done it might disappear from the memory and your greatness might be forgotten.

This might be changed if you “Open Source” your project and share your awesomeness and creativity with your peers. Your work might help a fellow architect somewhere in world, that needs to solve similar problems that were solved already by you.

Sharing your work with fellow architects will bring you greatness and recognition while helping others.

So, this is how you open source you project:

  1. Fix your “source code”. Clean your DWG, SKP, RVT files (or any other files), Organize your files in folders that make sense. You want to show your best and most professional side.
  2. Provide a file with a short description of the project and highlights. It is important to understand the content and scope of the project without having to download it. You might want to provide some renders and visualizations. A good description will help the project to be found by search engines.
  3. Add a license file to make sure that you are not liable, that it would be safe to re-use your work and that you are credited for your creativity. Copy and edit this template of the Open Architecture license.
  4. Upload your project to a sharing platform like Github, Bitbucket, Open blocks.
  5. Celebrate your project with others, post about it on your website, Futurearchi, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other places.

We, architects, are a part of a long and glorious tradition of creativity interwoven with technological innovation based on a free and open culture. Open source is how our culture works in the digital age.


Thanks @Dortheimer for your guide for architects that would like to contribute to emerging open source architecture movement !

Just a few remarks :

  • You linked to a file that is part of a open source software project. Would be more informative for architects that you / we create a file typical of an architecture project .
    Why don’t we create one ? with standard folder organisation…
  • Github, bitbucket… are good for development, they are also ok ot share architecture project. My only concerns is that many terms used in those platforms are not understandable by architects. I have created Openbricks for this purpose. There are many improvements needed and other platforms exist too. But what do you think of the need of a specific platform for open source architecture and if so which one ?
  • a inspiring header image would be nice to share on social networks

So I think licence, file preparation and project preparation (1 +2) deserve a full article.

I would like to quote the article I’ve wrote on the Why to contribute to open source architecture and the one about open source architecture licences that is just a start but intend to be a wiki of all licences (contribution needed !).

May be you can introduce the licence you propose in the context of other licences, and why this new standard is needed.

What do you think ?

Open source needs adaptation to architecture, because it doesn’t work for architects. I agree that the methods from software need to be changed, like you suggested, to fit to us.

But we need to remember that the “source” of architecture is the digital file that represents a building detail of a structure. We are witnessing the emergence of multiple Autocad block sharing websites and similar.

But they are very primal and are not governed by a structured and defined methodology like open-source projects.

An other issue is the political burden of the use of the word “collaboration” which is misused in this context. While collaboration in open source is limited to professionals, many theorists have related it to “Co-Design”, as a way to design with the users.

This is not the case in open source (In contrary to free software). Open source architecture must first provide value to the professional, without relating to ideas that diminish and undermine the architect.