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Get everyone involved in architecture
Your building, our knowledge, think different with WikiHouse

WikiHouse is a low-cost, sustainable and simple solution to construction in the 21st century that you can build yourself. Think differently about your capabilities and empower yourself to build for yourself or with your community. Imagine a system that does for construction what IKEA did for furniture, i.e. make it possible for everyone to get stuck into a building project and save money whilst retaining a high level of quality.

 

We are specialists in designing and building using WikiHouse to facilitate our client’s ambitions through our design and technical knowledge. We can also provide training for any volunteers and onsite leadership to help during the build process in addition to our typical architectural duties. It's so easy the whole family can get involved!

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Our WikiHouse Portfolio
At Architecture Unknown we believe design and construction should be an inclusive dialogue where everyone takes part, one where architecture becomes more than just the route to a building. With WikiHouse we are able to cater to the needs of your future build, by empowering you to build with those closest to you! No project is too big or too small for a WikiHouse solution.
Our WikiHouse
Clients
  • ​2nd Whalley Range Scouts (Charity)​

  • Homes 4 Ulverston Community Land Trust (CLT)

  • Little Hulton Big Local (Charity)​​​​​

  • Numerous Private Clients

  • Rooted In Homes (Charity)

  • Digital Woodoo (CIC)

  • Ford Park Community Group (Charity)

The WikiHouse Process

Watch our Wikihouse build vlog to understand how WikiHouse hacks the typical construction process by putting the power in your hands. From the beginning of installing the screw pile foundations to the installation of the last wall cassette WikiHouse puts you in the driving seat of your project. All it takes is some sweat, sunny weather and good company - get your mallets ready!

WikiHouse
Articles

Article

EZINE- A WikiHouse Special

Article

Newbie takes on WikiHouse Extension

Article

WikiHouse SKYLARK Launch Event

  • How is WikiHouse different from other forms of construction?
    WikiHouse is obviously different in that it's designed to be assembled by volunteers with no construction experience required and no significant tools! However in many ways it's very ordinary and performs very similarly to any other timber-framed building and we have used timber in buildings for hundred of years. Even masonry buildings usually have timber floors and roofs. When it comes to longevity, it all comes down to how a structure is maintained and whether it's been built in a careful and considerate way. Timber requires different detailing to masonry to make it watertight but it is just as robust and much more sustainable.
  • How do I assemble my WikiHouse?
    WikiHouse is like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle, where each piece slots into another. However, unlike a puzzle we provide you with instructions! WikiHouses only go together the right way so if two pieces don't fit, they probably aren't meant to. Our detailed construction manuals break down the process into easy to digest steps with pictures and diagrams to demonstrate assembly from the beginning to the end.
  • What is WikiHouse made out of? Is it heavy?
    WikiHouse is cut out of 1.2 x 2.4m 18mm thick plywood sheets which means none of the pieces can actually be bigger than that size. This allows for the pieces to be easily lifted, manhandled without needing to be a professional weight lifter! For small buildings or extensions, such as the example shown in the video, two people is ideal to ease manoeuvring of the larger finished assemblies on site. That being said, WikiHouse can scale to pretty much any size and for larger projects you may need more volunteers, equipment like a genie lift or even a contractor to help with the bigger pieces but it depends on the project.
  • Can Architecture Unknown help me build this?
    Although we are based in the North West, we are happy to help you build your WikiHouse wherever you are in the country. We can help you lead the process and give you guidance and inductions on how the system works when you're first starting as well. WikiHouse works best on the principle of sweat equity, where you donate your time to reduce labour costs, so we try and make it as easy to understand as possible so that you can do as much yourselves without needing to rely on us.
  • Do I need a contractor for my skill-level?
    Not everything on your building site can or should done by you. We hired a contractor to help install parts of the structure we weren't confident to do such as installing the steel beam. You should always know your limits and build safely and sensibly to achieve a great outcome but what WikiHouse does is open up an entire major building process (erecting the superstructure) that otherwise would have needed an expert contractor. This helps to reduce costs and is fun for all the family. For our build we installed the screw pile foundation, timber foundation rails, built the retaining sleeper wall, the WikiHouse itself including all the damp proofing and insulation, internal and external membranes for waterproofing, plasterboarding, flooring and all the external cladding and I certainly wouldn't say we're expert DIY-er's just passionate about construction and willing to give most things a go. If that sounds like you or someone you know you can save a huge amount of money by doing work yourself and being responsible for managing the build.
  • Is my design bespoke or off-the-shelf?
    WikiHouse is great because it can do either! It's very easy to adapt to alternative sizes and we have developed our drawing process over the past few years to allow us to create almost any shape. So if you see one of our WikiHouse products that interests you that's perfect but if you like the concept and want something that's all your own that's also very possible. Feel free to drop us an email to discuss your project requirements and we'll be able answer any queries you have.
  • Who can help me build my extension?
    WikiHouse can be done by anyone, thus making it a fantastic tool for small teams or larger ones. We've had young Scouts as well as their parents, grandparents and neighbours all chip in to build their own Scout Hut before. We think WikiHouse is suitable for anyone 10 years and older of any ability, all you need is time, enthusiasm and a mallet! If you need more professional help then we can be on hand as required or we can always organise for a local team of WikiHouse anoraks (believe us there's quite a few) to come and assist.
  • Will the WikiHouse be safe in an event of a fire?
    Timber and steel behave quite similarly in the case of a fire, and often steel behaves worse. In this way WikiHouse is no different to any other timber framed house or timber element in a masonry built house like a floor or roof, it just needs to be protected. With proper detailing, which is where our architectural knowledge comes into play, other parts of the building will be able to protect the timber WikiHosue structure to ensure that you and your family can escape safely in the event of a fire.
  • Is WikiHouse really that cheap? How is it cost-effective?
    Since you construct the WikiHouse yourself, you save significantly on labour costs. This principle is called sweat equity, where putting in your own time and energy is the main solution to building your extension. The WikiHouse itself is comparative in cost to masonry when considering only the building material but when you consider the potential savings from actually getting hands dirty with it, there is a big cost benefit. This varies between projects but our advice is to use WikiHouse as a spring board to do as much as you feel comfortable with. You've successfully built the structure, why not insulate it too? You did the insulation why not the membranes or cladding? We think that a lot of building tasks are not that complicated in reality they're just manual and time consuming but if you're up for the challenge a WikiHouse build can multiply the cost benefits of your DIY ambitions.
  • What types of buildings is WikiHouse suitable for?
    WikiHouse suits most building types! Even though it was designed for the housing market (hence the name!) it's a very flexible system and doesn't have a fixed building type it suits. Whilst there are some limits on the structural capacity of the system (set span lengths, number of storeys etc) these are almost always able to be designed around by us using our architectural skill and experience. WikiHouse is compliant with all structural requirements, is robust as long as it's well maintained, has great thermal properties and is very sustainable. If you have an office or business premise you want to expand it will work. If you need an additional school classroom that you want you community to build let us know. If you need a stand alone garden studio it's perfect. If you need an extension to an existing community centre nothing will beat it for the hope and passion it will generate in the local area. If there's any other building types I've missed give us a call but I'm sure we can make something together that meet your needs.
  • What system of WikiHouse do we use?
    Magpie is our new version of the WikiHouse that is designed for community-self build projects. WikiHouse has always been about intrepid and bold people looking to create a new vision for their spaces but Magpie is even more accessible for everyone and further lowers the skill level required for engaging with your own building projects. It's quick, materially efficient and very flexible to design with, thereby reducing the amount of on-site construction time required and the costs to you. We utilise a “cassette system” whereby all the walls, roof and floor panels can be pre-assembled, insulated and lined away from the site Magpie streamlines the construction process and allows people of all ages and abilities to get even more involved with their build.
WikiHouse
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