More shackitecture and call for “Urban Homesteading Act”

Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability
More shackitecture and call for “Urban Homesteading Act”

Last week, Mister Jalopy started out to write another one of is fine entries on D+R about “shackitecture” and ended up penning a proposal for an “Urban Homesteading Act,” a new generation of homesteading laws.

As discussed on D+R previously, the local zoning and building departments represent an impregnable, byzantine bureaucracy so difficult to navigate that it often becomes an insurmountable obstacle to amateurs. Of course, those departments do a terrific public service that is necessary for civilization to continue, but I think there is a possibility to refine and streamline these departments to serve individuals.

There are communities dying from lack of investment, dwindling population, dying industry and a diminished tax base. Imagine a progressive rural community that opened a shackitecture/homesteading office – a building department that didn’t tell you what you can’t build, but what you can build. How would it work?

Tar Paper, Mining Camps, Norwegian Photographers, Adaptive Reuse of Milk Trucks and the Call for an Urban Homesteading Act

Remake the World

6 thoughts on “More shackitecture and call for “Urban Homesteading Act”

  1. afaust says:

    It would be problematic, because once a planning agency starts offering design solutions, the burden of liability shifts to them.

    On top of that, our country isn’t ready for a ‘think for yourself’ type of building regulation. The people want to be taken care of, not to take care of themselves.

    You’ve heard the phrase “you can’t fight city hall”? Well that’s what this is. It’s like trying to reform the DMV or the IRS…a nice sentiment, but not likely to happen, at least not in an urban setting.

    I’d vote for it though.

  2. Gareth Branwyn says:

    I think you’re right. I think Mister J knows that, too. That’s why he said it was a Quixotic idea. But a fella can dream, can’t he?

  3. redsquid says:

    I prefer to call it ‘anarchitecture’. The solution isn’t to work within the construct of city hall- we need to go build where they are not looking. I came across a comunity in Hawai’i where people lived in caves, buses, containers, etc. It was in a remote, undeveloped area and there simply wasn’t a code enforcement infrastructure to prohibit creative shelter. It was kinda road warrior looking (in a good way).

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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