After a few failed attempts, Parvin reconstructsthe machine, produces coffee, and shows me around the maker space he shares on one floor of a mid-20th-century skyscraper. It’s a sprawling landscape of desks, sofas, and bulletin boards with a plywood house frame rising from within the common area. It’s also an apt manifestation of WikiHouse itself: occupants taking back architecture on their own terms.
The 30-year-old Parvin, a member of the design collective 00 (pronounced zero zero), started WikiHouse with fellow architect Nick Ierodiaconou in 2011. In effect, the two set out to subvert their profession just as they were entering the workforce. Architecture, Parvin argued at an attention-grabbing TED talk in 2013, has become a rarefied service for only the very rich. WikiHouse aims to put home design and construction in the hands of all people, regardless of training or economic status. It has established a free library of building plans that anyone can download, adapt, print, and construct.