Many initiatives around the world have lately focused on ways to improve the urban environment through the actions of their inhabitants, be it in designing, building, or managing projects. Open-source urbanism is a collaborative approach that seeks to enhance the citizens' capacity for change.
An in-depth look at the concept of open-source urbanism is happening nowadays, and one can find many different definitions and approaches to it. But overall, open-source urbanism can be defined as the co-production of open-source common urban assets.
To collectively create urban spaces, open-source urbanism initiatives must collect and share information, maps, guides, and insights acquired from previous projects. Through information technology (IT) platforms, the content can not only be made available to everyone but can also be developed collectively, following the very concept of open-source software.
El Campo de Cebada is a community management project in the Central District of Madrid that seeks not only to promote collective building but also to disseminate the open-source experience. The initiative started with the adaptive re-use of an abandoned building and has been carrying out several cultural activities and projects with the local community, also providing material related to the design and construction of the furniture through a Creative Commons license.
Another example of how open-source can work in cities is Wheelmap, a platform designed to search and share accessible places around the world. Anyone can participate and rate publicly accessible places according to their wheelchair accessibility. The service is available on apps for both web and smartphones.
Open-source urbanism reevaluates the logic behind traditional city planning, which defines the rules of mobility, interaction, and behavior in the city. This set of regulations can be revised towards a more flexible, adaptable, and appropriate approach, according to the population's dynamic demands.
Many initiatives can be seen as open-source infrastructure solutions since they also embrace the city's services and facilities. Open-source urbanism differs from the concept of smart cities as it is not centered in a specialized company but rather in collective knowledge. This shift reshapes the initiatives that work on "pyramid schemes" towards creating collective development through open-source platforms. In other words, open-source urbanism projects have been aiming at other models of urban governance based on infrastructure management carried out by the population itself.