The Open Source House Project


Every person on this planet can build a home without having to resort to spending vast amounts of money. Every person can build a house that can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, heatwaves or even floods. It sounds too good to be true, but in reality it’s not. Due to earth’s rising temperatures, natural disasters will be more frequent and more damaging in the future. The poorest people on this earth will be the worst victims in all of this.

Our project can support these people, as well as form a solution to the current housing problems refugees are facing today. Earthbag Domes or eco domes, as these houses are called, are the most prominent solution to providing the poorest people in this world with permanent accommodation. Earthbag Domes can replace existing tent camps for refugees, slums houses or houses in areas plagued by natural disasters. We at the Open Source House Project want to share our knowledge and provide a platform for sharing ideas and developments regarding earthbag domes.

“You can change the world again, instead of protecting yourself from it.”

― Julien Smith

Because this project is quite large, we decided to chop the project up in phases.

Phase 1: Building and documenting the first eco dome

We at Open Source House Project are going to build these eco domes ourselves, documenting exactly how to build these domes, so that others can build earthbag domes themselves using our documentation. We will use this website providing all information regarding earthbag domes for free (hence the name ‘Open Source’). Our documentation will range from a video documentary showing the construction of the dome to downloadable blueprints on how to build your own dome. When we finish building an earthbag dome, we will provide the dome with a beautiful garden filled to the brim with plants and flowers. The newly built dome can then be rented so money can be generated for the local community and to fund this project.

Phase 2: Building various types of earthbag domes

If our budget allows for developing new domes, we can start building various types of domes, such as domes for complete families, large or small. Needless to say, we will also document in full building these new types of domes and sharing these on our website. People can rent these domes, completing the full circle of the first phase yet again, which leads to progression towards building an eco resort which can generate the funds we have invested and at the same time provides employment for local people, such as tour guides, cooks, housekeepers, gardeners, drivers, et cetera.

Phase 3: Creating a sustainable food supply

Fresh and healthy food is important. Not only because we want to provide out guests with 100% sustainable and fresh food, but also because we want to teach the local population a new way of food cultivation. This method is called ‘aquaponics‘, which is a highly sustainable method combining conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. This method provides for faster and more sustainable food production. The biggest advantages are that virtually no water is wasted, no pesticides are used – pesticides would kill the fishes – and that this method speeds up plant and fish produce. We will build these aquaponic farms in specially designed domes.

Phase 4: Starting an ecolodge, a micro economy is born

In the last phase everything comes together. We have beautiful ecodomes spread over a plot of land which are completely self-sufficient in water and energie. We also have our aquaponics farm up and running which makes it possible for us to grow organic food. This gives us the opportunity to run a restaurant. But we produce a lot of food, so besides the restaurant we can sell our products elsewhere (It would be cool if we could build earth-bag shops in different locations.They can keep our foods cool and promote the idea of building with earthbags). Now we can generate the funds we have invested and at the same time the project provides development and employment for local people.

To cut a long story short, this project can make it possible to create a lot of jobs (builders, farmers, drivers, shopkeepers, touristguides, lodge staff, cooks and more) by a quite minimal injection of money within a few years. It will create jobs and makes it possible for Gambian youths to develop their talents and prevent them from migrating. Also the tourism industry will benefit from it and can set an example with this project.

An amazing example of an eco-lodge

It is possible for everyone to build a house that is very cheap, beautiful and can stand extremely heavy wheather. Our main goal is to gather and provide as much valuable information about earthbag-building as possible. We want to inspire people to build their own sustainable home and support themselves by sustainable farming like aquaponic-techniques.

Kevin de Zwart