OpenStructures :: everyone designs for everyone

OpenStructures | Image credits: z33

The OpenStructures project is an open and modular construction system where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid:

It is an ongoing experiment that wants to find out what happens if people design objects according to a shared modular grid, a common open standard that stimulates the exchange of parts, components, experiences and ideas and aspires to build things together.

When we look at modular construction systems we can clearly distinguish two different models:
– Closed modular systems, where one entity designs a complete system for everybody, and which operate according to a hierarchical (vertical) model.
– Open modular systems, where everybody contributes a small piece to a common system, and which operate according to a (horizontal) network model.

Within current hardware constructions we observe the existence of various closed systems:
– Designer A designs modular system 1
– Company B designs modular system 2
Although all these systems enjoy the benefits of modularity within their system, they most of the time are completely incompatible with one another.

Within software constructions however we are witnessing the emergence of open modular systems.
– Wikipedia, open knowledge sharing
– Linux, open programming

The OS project tries to find out what happens if we would initiate an open modular system for hardware where different entities design different parts and components but all according to one shared modular grid.

Conceived by designer Thomas Lommée, the project was first shown at Z33. The exhibition was comprised of several OS project scales, starting with “open parts” – which are the smallest OS – elements comparable to cells. These “open parts” are then assembled into functional self-sustaining entities: the components or organs of the OpenStructure-system. Following, different components are composed with frames and joints to form structures. Structures then have the capacity to develop and can eventually grow into an assembly of different structures that together function as a superstructure.

The exhibition in Z33 follows the story-line of the different scales and furthermore highlights a collaborative installation as a first “BetaTest” of the system. Just like software, that is reviewed before its launch, the model is tested by setting up a fully-functional kitchen. It demonstrates the streamlined process between different functional entities on the one side and is a vivid patchwork of various personalities, materials, inspirations and motivations on the other.

In preparation for the exhibition, Thomas Lommée collaborated with the KHLimburg and the Hogeschool Sint Lukas in Brussels. During several workshops, students were told about the topic and the first tests took place. This process is going to continue next year through collaborations with Sint Lukas Brussels and the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Thomas Lommée has invited the following designers, craftsmen and enthusiastic autodidacts to collaborate on this project and design within the grid: Laurens Bekemans, Biogas-E vzw, Nicolas Coeckelberghs, Kar Yan Cheung, Brussels Cooperation, Alistaire Dewit, Lise Foré, Christiane Hoegner, Bob Jacobs, Fabio Lorefice, Lucas Maassen, Jeroen Maes, Samyrah Moumouth, Karl Philips, Thermopolnv, Unfold, Jo Van Bostraeten.

OpenStructures is a collaborative effort (open to everyone), originally conceived at the Institute without Boundaries and now being further developed and tested by Intrastructures in association with the research group 4Dimensional Design of the Department of Architectonic Engineering Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Learn more about and participate in the project @ the OpenStructures site:
:: purpose, goals, and potential
:: grid
:: parts
:: components
:: structures
:: designer platform
:: blog
:: participate

The Z33 art center also has an upcoming show titled Design by Performance which will feature, among many other interesting works, Unfold’s Claystruder (paired with a virtual trowing wheel that scans 3d hand movements and generates virtual objects to be printed at a later time) and David Bowen’s Growth Modelling Device. If you’re in the neighborhood (Hasselt, Belgium) or can make it there, don’t miss this exhibition!

UPDATE :: The Open Structures project is currently part of the ‘Up to You’ exhibition @ Stroom (The Hague, Netherlands).

One response to “OpenStructures :: everyone designs for everyone”

  1. Hello friends,
    I’am Industrial Designer and I’m going to launch very soon a workshop named: from idea to prototype. So I think this kind of projects and initiatives fits perfectly into one of the workshop activities I propose.
    The question Is: how can I use and recreate the modules and structures you have here in my Country (Colombia)
    Thanks for your attention, I will be in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *