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If interested in Wikitecture, you might be interested in the architectural challenge that’s being run over at

It’s called The openAEC Challenge: a Collaboration Competition.  Unlike a typical competition, where the criteria for winning is solely based on how successful the final submission is, the criteria for winning this challenge will be solely based based on how well the participants collaborate, integrate, and build off each other’s ideas.

The sole purpose of this Challenge is to abolish a pervasive myth undoubtedly shared by a vast majority of architectural students around the world: That real-world buildings are designed by a sole, mastermind architect, working in isolation.

The Challenge will be broken down into eight, two-week long phases or charrettes, over the length of the Fall semester, 2012. OpenAEC participants will use the to share their digital documents and to conduct real-time Peer Reviews via their whiteboarding tool: SketchSpace™.

After any one phase, the Challenge participants are encouraged and expected to re-use and re-appropriate the ideas and content (CAD/BIM files) submitted by others in earlier phases.

In other words, copying and using other’s work is not just encouraged in this Challenge, it’s essential!

Unlike a typical competition, the participants will be voting on the designs, not some panel of arbitrary juriers. The ultimate winners of the Challenge will be those teams/individuals who have won the most phases throughout the semester.

This Challenge will be centered around a real project—a 48 acre (19.5 ha) sustainable, agro-tourism farm, called Flocktown Farm, located an hour outside of New York City.

For more details, please visit the following link:

We have some very exciting news to share!

Since 2007, the Wiki tree software development has been funded by Studio Wikitecture and developed by i3D Inc.  We’ve considered  the software development process to be experimental, just as we’ve considered the ongoing Studio Wikitecture projects to be experiments in collaboration using Second Life.


The Studio Wikitecture experiments have had great success — winning the Founders Award in the 2008 Open Architecture Network Challenge and the 2009 Linden Prize.  But how can we build on that momentum?  One thing has become clear — the Wiki Tree software needs to grow in many ways. It needs to be easier to set up and easier to use by project collaborators.  It needs new features to make it useful for a wider range of projects, from the small in-world build to large designs that will be built in the physical world.  It needs better integration with the rest of the Web and with other 3D modeling applications.  The list goes on and on.  And by ourselves, we don’t have the resources to make that happen.

So we’re liberating the Wiki Tree software.  We’re releasing all the code, both in-world and server-side under the Berkeley Software Distribution license.  Omei Turnbull (Roger Wellington-Oguri in RL), a long time Studio Wikitecture contributor, has agreed to shepherd the project, and has set up a project home at  The source code has been uploaded to a SCM Repository and we’re in the process of creating a Wiki, discussion forums, and an issue tracker.

It is our hope that the Open Source Wiki Tree 3D project will take on a life of its own, and grow to be something bigger and better than we can currently conceive of.  But that’s up to you and the rest of the community.  If you do use the Wiki Tree, we hope you will give back to the project in whatever way you can, whether that be helping other users, submitting code enhancements, or just spreading the word.  But that isn’t a requirement.  The BSD License is a “permissive” license, meaning you can do most anything you want with the code, commercial or non-commercial, with or without contributing back to the community project.

Studio Wikitecture itself will be actively engaged in the Open Source Wiki Tree 3D project.  We’ll also be offering project hosting, facilitation, training, technical assistance and support.  If you would like assistance with setting up a Wiki-Tree, hosting a project on the Studio Wikitecture website, or conducting a Wikitecture project, please send us an email at

To the future!

In our pursuit of exploring the methods behind an open source approach to architectural practice, we have continually wondered – if a project is truly open and contributions can come from anywhere and anyone, can a system be devised that can pay contributors fairly for their contributions?

Like any open project, contributions vary widely in size and in quality, and are in times hard to quantify and hard to parse out who did what and to what extent.  So, how, in this highly collaborative approach, could contributors get paid fairly for their work?

If, in the end, an open and highly collaborative approach produces a final product that is better, cheaper, and quicker to build then the traditional siloed approach to designing and constructing buildings, it seems logical to seek a system whereby all the parties involved can be assured they will be rewarded fairly for their quality efforts.

This is a tremendously complicated problem to solve, if it can be solved at all.  Although we are far from knowing all the answers, we can at least take a rough stab.

The preceding slideshare, is that rough stab.  As you will see, it’s far from polished, but in the spirit of ‘releasing early and releasing often’, I wanted to share what I have so far and would be grateful for any feedback you might have.

In order to facilitate a more effective way of hearing community feedback around this idea, we have set up an ‘Ideascale’ site…

I just wanted to thank all the contributors on the OAN Nepal Challenge for all their hard work and dedication over the last couple months. The following images are of the final boards submitted to the OAN project site (larger images here). You can be your own judge, but I think they turned out great! What a far cry from Wikitecture 1.0. Looking forward to Wikitecture 4.0, whatever project that may be.

I also wanted to thank everyone for their patience and persistence in working through a very rough and rudimentary technology. Although the ‘Wiki-Tree’ and website have a long way to go to improve upon their usability, the final project is a major testament to the potential of what can result from a more open source approach to architecture.

It goes without saying we learned a lot from this last experiment and are excited to further refine the Wikitecture technology to allow for more seamless collaboration on future projects. In this regard, if you have a project you’d like to have designed and developed via this more open, Wikitecture way, please let us know. (ryan [dot] schultz [at] studiowikitecture [dot] com). Having been part of the Studio Wikitecture group for some time, I am confident that the group has enough skill and experience, architectural and otherwise, to tackle any size project that we would have the good fortune to be offered. I’m sure Wikitecture 4.0 will continue to demonstrate what can happen when a loose network of passionate individuals are given the tools to collaborate around an architectural project.

Thank you.

“Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet. Whenever a copyright is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble.” Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), circa 1906

“Good artists copy; great artists steal.” —Pablo Picasso

The benefit of an open approach to architectural design is that you can play off and improve the design of others, which in turn, one would hope, benefits the lives of all—as should be an architect’s ethical tenant. The standard ‘all rights reserved’ approach to licensing, however, limits this ability to create derivative works for the benefit of all. The creative commons, however, offers an alternative approach to IP rights that facilitates this idea of remixing the work of others—as described in the following quote from their website:

This process of generically giving permission in advance – use my content so long as you attribute me, or engage in non commercial use, or make no derivative works or share your improvements with the broader community – allows users upon seeing content labeled with the CC symbol to know exactly, at that instant, what right they have to reproduce, communicate, cut, paste, and remix.

The following describes each of the six main licenses offered when you choose to publish your work with a Creative Commons license. They are listed starting with the most accommodating type you can choose and ending with the most restrictive.


Attribution (by). Lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.

Attribution Share Alike (by-sa). Lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd). Allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attribution Non-Commercial (by-nc). Lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa). Lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd). The most restrictive of the six main licenses, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

From my understanding, the various licensing options boil down to the following two scenarios: Someone can make a derivative work, make money commercially, and not pay you a thing or the opposite, someone can make a derivative work and neither of you make money commercially. There is of course the scenario, where both parties are able to benefit by signing a commercial licensing agreement, but this is usually after the fact. With this arrangement, you run the risk, however, that the original licensor will not want to come to a fair and balanced assessment of each other’s contribution. With this potential risk loaming in the future, you would be less likely to even start a derivative work in the first place—there’s less initial incentive. If this is a public project, the public would, in turn, loose the opportunity of having a superior design (judged on many fronts, not just aesthetically), for less. Do we really need to reinvent the wheel with every project? So in pursuing this commercial licensing agreement are we not back to the same cumbersome legal wrangling we were trying to avoid in the first place by creating the CC? Can there be a CC license that finds a middle ground where people are open to use other’s work, but all parties benefit monetarily, without the intervention of a cumbersome legal process?

What if, however, there was a New Licensing option—somewhere between ‘Attribution Non-commercial’ and ‘Attribution No Derivatives’—that stated that you are free to pursue commercial gain without consent, but if you use the derivative work to make money, the payout percentages to all parties is assessed by the ‘community’ and not left up to the lawyers to determine? Under this license, I would have a little more confidence using someone else work initially, knowing that if my derivative work does indeed make money, that there’s a better likelihood that the community, on average, will make a fairer assessment of each other contribution, than if left up to the biases of lawyers and other interested stakeholders.

What is the community in this case? Perhaps, initially this community is composed of only those involved in the project—the originator and those that modify the design. If, however, through this 1st phase, a unanimous vote is not achieved, assessment would be opened up to another tier of paid editors and arbiters to make the final evaluation. Since this group of editors, would in turn get a small percentage of the project’s revenue, there’s more incentive for the original parties to come to an agreement. Perhaps in order to insure that this group of editors, on average, doles out a fair and balanced assessment, there could be a system in place where the editors in turn are ranked by those they are arbitrating for—i.e., you are able to rank the ranker so to speak. So, in the end, only the editors with the best rankings are allowed to participate in this process. Through this you are in essence placing more faith in the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ to establish a quick and fair judgment, than you are in a traditional legal procedure.

I feel, if such a system of licensing were in place, people would be more apt at using someone else’s work from the very beginning, knowing that since the ‘community’ is establishing the percentage of authorship, they’d be more assured that everyone, in the end, would be granted a fair deal. I believe this method would not only allow good ideas to propagate themselves more prolifically in the world, through the continual process of refinement, they would also improve at a more exponential rate as well—a win-win scenario for all.