DIY Global Village Construction Set

This is cool. A group of DIY enthusiasts led by Marcin Jakubowski, Open Source Ecology, have come up with a Global Village Construction Set (GVCS). The group’s official vision:

“A world where every community has access to an open source Fab[rication] Lab which can produce all the things that one currently finds at a Walmart cost-effectively, quickly, on demand from local resources.”

The GVCS includes 50 low-cost industrial machines that can sustain a small manufacturing and farming community. I’m not sure if all 50 of the low-cost industrial machines GVCS says are necessary to create a fully self-sustaining village with modern comforts anywhere in the world are actually necessities for such a purpose, but then again, I’ve never tried to practically plan out such a community.

The "Liberator" -- a Compressed Earth Brick Press designed by Open Source Ecology.

The ideas the entire guide is focused around include:

  • Open Source
  • Low-Cost
  • Modular
  • User-Serviceable
  • DIY
  • Closed Loop Manufacturing
  • High Performance
  • Flexible Fabrication
  • Distributive Economics
  • Industrial Efficiency

Looks like a good list of critical qualities. Open Source Ecology has reportedly built prototypes of 8 of the 50 machines they think are needed and has finalized the design of one. The goal is to complete most of the design work by the end of 2010 (no surprise there).

Jakubowski presented his plans at a TED conference in Long Beach earlier this year, at which he admitted that his plan to design and distribute all these machines and is “a very big, hairy, audacious goal“, but he’s going for it.

Here’s more on the project’s immediate potential and supporters via The Atlantic:

“Marcin is a mad scientist, says Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a farmer in New York’s Hudson Valley who also promotes the open-sourcing of agricultural and rural hardware. In fact, although Open Source Ecology’s project is called the Global Village Construction Set, indicating an international focus, domestic farmers might be its most receptive audience. Currently, many American farmers tackling small acreages are making do with 1940s-era tractors and other solidly built but outdated equipment. Jakubowski’s self-fabricated tractors and backhoes may provide one of the only affordable alternatives for start-up farmers looking for small-scale machinery.

That appeal is one reason Open Source Ecology’s followers have recently been growing in number. In addition to the collaborators who convene at Jakubowski’s 30 acres in Missouri, donors numbering in the ‘upper hundreds’ are offering varying levels of financial support, according to Julia Valentine, a long-time activist who recently joined the group to do outreach and fundraising. And small groups in Oberlin, Ohio; Eastern Pennsylvania; New York; and California have started getting involved by helping develop blueprints and by building prototypes.”

Keep your eye out for news on Open Source Ecology and the Global Village Construction Set and learn more about the group and project via the links above.