Makerspaces

The rise of the maker culture is closely associated with the rise of hackerspaces, Fab Labs and other “maker spaces”, of which there are now many around the world, including over 100 each in Germany and the United States. Hackerspaces allow like-minded individuals to share ideas, tools, and skillsets. Some notable hackerspaces which have been linked with the maker culture include Urban Workshop, Noisebridge, NYC Resistor, A2 Mech Shop, Pumping Station: One, Artisan’s Asylum, danger!awesome, and TechShop. In addition, those who identify with the subculture can be found at more traditional universities with a technical orientation, such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon (specifically around “shop” areas like the MIT Hobby Shop and CMU Robotics Club). As maker culture becomes more popular, hackerspaces and Fab Labs are becoming more common in universities and public libraries. The federal government has started adopting the concept of fully open makerspaces within its agencies, the first of which (SpaceShop Rapid Prototyping Lab) resides at NASA Ames Research Center. In Europe the popularity of the labs is more prominent than in the US: about three times more labs exist there.

Outside Europe and the US, the maker culture is also on the rise, with several hacker or makerspaces being landmarks in their respective cities’ entrepreneurial and educational landscape. More precisely: HackerspaceSG in Singapore has been set up by the team now leading the city-state’s (and, arguably, South-East Asia’s) most prominent accelerator JFDI.Asia. Lamba Labs in Beirut is recognized as a hackerspace where people can collaborate freely, in a city often divided by its different ethnic and religious groups.]Xinchejian in Shanghai is China’s first hackerspace, which allows for innovation and collaboration in a country known for its strong internet censorship.

With the rise of cities, which will host 60% of mankind by 2030, hackerspaces, fablabs and makerspaces will likely gain traction, as they are places for local entrepreneurs to gather and collaborate, providing local solutions to environmental, social or economical issues. The Institute for the Future has launched in this regard Maker Citiesas “an open and collaborative online game, to generate ideas about how citizens are changing work, production, governance, learning, well-being, and their neighborhoods, and what this means for the future”.

Cuba will host the first international Open Technology 4 Life Workshop inviting American Makers to collaborate with Cuban Makers in January 2016 in Havana.

Over the same time frame, makerspaces have started to spring up. Though desktop machines and inexpensive tools for the home have made many projects possible, some still require industrial equipment that’s not accessible to the typical maker. Makerspaces — TechShop is probably the best-known, with multiple locations around the U.S. — tend to be a community-based industrial space that operate on a membership plan, somewhat like a gym.

 MAKERS FACTORY & COMMUNITY