In 2015 the Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship funded a research project examining the maker movement and its associated spaces from an architectural perspective. The project, named “Making Culture” studied how Architecture engages and fosters communities, specifically the maker community. The research sought to consider how community making could provide a vehicle for architects to better connect the sometimes esoteric nature of architectural design and increase public appreciation of architecture.
The Makerspace Playbook broadly defines maker spaces as “ gathering points where communities of new and experienced makers connect to work on real and personally meaningful projects, informed by helpful mentors and expertise, using new technologies and traditional tools”. These spaces are the observable outcome of an emerging means of production based in peer to peer sharing facilitated by access to digital fabrication and communication technology. Jeremy Rifkin 1 amongst others argue that a shift towards information goods and digital means of production is altering how material objects in everyday life are produced and consumed.
Architects are well placed to become both the leaders and beneficiaries of this social and technological revolution. From model making and 1:1 prototypes to small design build projects, access to digital fabrication tools increase the capabilities of architects while helping to explore the connection between digital design techniques and the material and tectonic traditions of architecture. The research produced an open set of information to enable architects to explore designing and making through community spaces with the potential for alternative social, cultural and economic contexts.
In the United States maker spaces, Tech Shops, or hacker spaces, provide physical space and access to technology and allow communities of people to form with shared social and cultural values. “Making Culture” examines the communities and the virtual and physical spaces that develop around digital making. The study identified key case studies in the US and Australia that represented this emergence in order to learn how they operated and what they achieved.
The spaces identified and visited all similarly occupy forgotten, unwanted or awkward parts of the city. They re-use and adapt existing architecture, opportunistically inhabiting space, geographically distributed by economic real estate forces. Inside these spaces varieties of people engage in making projects whilst connecting socially, seeking common goals, observing collective codes of behaviour, and sharing knowledge and experiences through participation and collaboration.
Jeremy Rifkin, 2015,The Zero Marginal Cost Society; The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. Palgrave:Macmillan - London. ↩