Jenni Young

Open Source Architecture


When Domus approached Carlo Ratti to write an op-ed on the theme of open source architecture he responded with an unusual suggestion: why not write it collaboratively, as an open-source document? Within a few hours a page was started on Wikipedia, and an invitation sent to an initial network of contributors…

The outcome of this collaborative effort is presented in an article published in Domus in June 2011. The article is a capture of the text as of 11 May 2011, but the Wikipedia page remains online as an open canvas — a 21st century “manifesto” of sorts, which by definition is in permanent evolution.

A year after the article’s publication, in the summer of 2012, the idea of recapturing the text in its current state of mutation was born. However, it was not to be envisaged as a new publication, but rather a piece of the exhibition, Adhocracy, curated by Joseph Grima for the first Istanbul Design Biennial. The studio Carlo Ratti Associati envisioned a canvas on which a free flowing pen writes, erases and constantly rewrites the different versions of the Wikipedia page, indicating corrections, deletions and development of the manifesto in its continuous state of change.

A vertical plotter on a large whiteboard welcomes visitors to the exhibition; its contents are generated in real-time from a script that constantly compares the various versions of the Wikipedia page. Starting each time from one of the numerous updates written online, the pen retraces its steps to incorporate all the users’ contributions. Once it reaches the end, it begins once again, relentlessly in pursuit of the latest version of our open source manifesto, OSArc.


OSArc Manifesto, a project by Carlo Ratti Associati for the Istanbul Design Biennial 2012

This project was one of the many I was involved in during my time at Carlo Ratti Associati: coordinating, writing and editing the first version of the manifesto; organizing press materials and explanatory material for the various exhibits OSArc Manifesto was a part of; and even having a small part in its road to publication (believe it or not, my face is somewhere in this collage!).

You can find more images and information on the project in this article by Dezeen.

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© 2021 Jenni Young