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Building sustainable communities the open source way

Open source is well and truly embedded in the digital lexicon. But applying the concept to the physical world? That's something else entirely. And it's what a network of farmers, engineers and volunteers has banded together to create: an ‘open source ecology’.

The Open Source Ecology project applies open source principles to creating tools capable of building sustainable communities using recycled and scrap materials.

The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) would lower entry into farming, building and manufacturing.

It's perhaps best explained as Lego-like construction tools, which can be used to create entire economies. This sort of technology can be used in urban redevelopment or in the developing world.

The technology is a inexpensive, DIY, high-performance platform that enables the creation of 50 different industrial machines it would take to build a small, sustainable civilisation with modern comforts.

Marcin Jakubowski founded the project in rural Missouri. Inspiration came to Jakubowski after he attempted to start his own farm. He soon realised there were no low-cost tools needed for farming and construction, so he decided to build them himself.

"I needed tools that were robust, modular highly efficient and optimized, low cost, made from local and recycled materials that would last a life time. Not designed for obsolescence. I found that I would have to build them myself so I did just that."

There are eight machines, currently in the prototype phase. These include a bulldozer, a multi-purpose ‘ironworker’ (which includes a punching machine, a plate and section shear, a punch and shear machine and a coper-notcher) and a drill press.