Open Source Architecture Manifesto
by Carlo Ratti Associati


Visitors to the Adhocracy show at the Istanbul Design Biennial are confronted with a plotter taking the text of the Open Source Architecture Manifesto from a Wikipedia page and writing it onto a wall. (+ slideshow)

Open Source Architecture Manifesto by Carlo Ratti and Walter Nicolino

Created by Walter Nicolino and Carlo Ratti of Carlo Ratti Associati, the plotter updates the text as the Wikipedia page changes.

Open Source Architecture Manifesto by Carlo Ratti and Walter Nicolino

The project began last year when Joseph Grima, editor of Domus magazine and curator of the Adhocracy show, asked Ratti to write a manifesto for open-source architecture.

Open Source Architecture Manifesto by Carlo Ratti and Walter Nicolino

"I said yeah sure, but let’s do it in an open-source way," Ratti told Dezeen. "So we set up a page on Wikipedia."

Open Source Architecture Manifesto by Carlo Ratti and Walter Nicolino

Ratti, who is director of the Senseable City Lab at MIT, invited contributors including Nicholas Negroponte, John Habraken, Paola Antonelli and Hans Ulrich Obrist to contribute to the page to create an evolving document that was published in Domus in June 2011.

Open Source Architecture Manifesto by Carlo Ratti and Walter Nicolino

"It’s funny because the editors of Wikipedia kept erasing it until it was published in Domus, and then it became kind of 'legal'," says Ratti. "So now it is a page on Wikipedia and people keep on adding to it, changing it and so on. It keeps on evolving."

Open Source Architecture Manifesto by Carlo Ratti and Walter Nicolino

In Istanbul the suspended plotter writes the manifesto on a large whiteboard mounted on the wall on the staircase at the Adhocracy exhibition, crossing out and overwriting passages as they are edited on Wikipedia and starting afresh as soon as the text is completed.

Open Source Architecture Manifesto by Carlo Ratti and Walter Nicolino

The plotter is based on similar principles to Hektor, a wall-mounted plotter that paints with a spray can. "There was a prototype of a similar plotter called Hektor – there’s a couple of them online  that were doing things on a piece of paper," says Ratti. "But here the idea was to do it on an architectural scale, on a big wall."

Open Source Architecture Manifesto by Carlo Ratti and Walter Nicolino

See our interview with Joseph Grima about the Adhocracy exhibition and read more about open design on Dezeen.

Here's some text from Carlo Ratti Associati:

Open Source Architecture Manifesto

2012 / Istanbul TURKEY

When Domus approached Carlo Ratti to write an op-ed on the theme of opensource 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 Biennal. The studio carlorattiassociati 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.

For more information, and to read the article published in Domus (June 2011) visit:

For details of the exhibition Adhocracy, part of the Istanbul Design Biennal running until December 2012 visit:

Team: Carlo Ratti, Walter Nicolino, Pietro Leoni (project leader), Antonio Atripaldi, Giovanni de Niederhausern, Enrico Gueli, Franco Magni

Special thanks to Officine Arduino / FabLab Torino

  • The highest status a scientific theory can have is “not yet proven outdated”. Yes – evolution always, pretty please.

  • Dan

    That's all well and good. Who designed the drawing robot? Where can we find more information about it?

    Thank you!

  • pietro leoni

    I designed the machine with the help of a couple of other guys for the circuits and code. At the moment we have not yet released the drawings, but we intend to do it, along with the code. Moreover, we need a little time to tidy things up and make a little documentation on the assembly.

    It’s a combination of processing and arduino, with two stepper nema 17 driven by Pololu a4988 stepper driver and some rc servo on the printing head. The big work, however, has been on the texts analysis and the generation of dynamic inputs.

  • Damian

    Jürg Lehni developed a drawing robot like this in 2005. That's seven years ago.

  • pietro leoni

    Jürg Lehni (and Uli Franke) developed a drawing robot like this in 2002-2003. That’s ten years ago. The name was Hector and is quoted by Carlo in this article, also with a link.
    Since then, there have been ​​many other vertical plotters made.

    In our installation the concept is the analysis of web contents, the dynamic generation of input for the plotter and the fact that the machine is able to delete, as well as write, to enrich this content. The vertical plotter is only a tool. If we could, it would be nice to do it with a Kuka.

  • Franck

    Hi. I like very much your drawing robot. I hope to find here soon the drawing and source code.