• 02.07.11

A “Life-Sized Lego Set” for Creating Self Sustaining Towns

The Global Village Construction Set is a set of 40 tools upon which to build a sustainable small civilization. Move over Mad Max!

A “Life-Sized Lego Set” for Creating Self Sustaining Towns

The farmer-engineers of Open Source Ecology are bringing high-tech savvy to the age-old pastoral dream. Their Global Village Construction Set project is an ongoing sustainable design experiment that aims to develop plans for the forty machines necessary to build “a self-sufficient modern life from low-grade, abundant local resources.” Things like a compressed-earth brick-making machine and a self-propelled tractor (which looks a bit like the Batmobile repurposed for plowing).


As their charming video shows, the GVCS will let any motivated group of tree-hugging neckbeards eco-conscious global citizens build a “small sustainable civilization with modern comforts” from scratch. Since most of the basic machine parts are manufactured in China, this scheme won’t be much good for rebuilding society after a post peak-oil apocalypse scenario, but the OSE-ers are hoping that the final versions of the GVCS plans will not require any overseas sourcing.


The brick-making machine in action, courtesy of

The big idea behind the GVCS is its modular design: the plans are free to download from the OSE’s sprawling wiki, and all forty machines will use interchangeable parts and power sources. They call it a “life size Lego set,” which reflects that modular philosophy, but these aren’t easy snap-together tools: you’ll need some serious shop skills in order to put the plans to work.



A brick-making machine under construction. Hope you know how to weld.

The Open Source Ecology folks are serious innovators: They’ve prototyped eight of their forty machines so far.

[Read more at Open Source Ecology; top image by Evan Mitchell]

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.