Institute of Making Announces London Opening — But How Open?

January 25, 2013 in Design Principles, Event, Featured

Makers at the Aalto FABLab in Helsinki. Photo thanks to Henrico.

A bit of good news for UK-based designers and hardware enthusiasts interested in making, building and experimenting — the Institute of Making is finally holding its Grand Public Opening on Saturday 16 March from 1pm onwards in London.

As someone who has been in London a few years, I’ve often wished there was a stronger makerspace/FABlab community in this city (London Hackspace and the Goodlife Centre aside). I’m excited about the potentiality of a centre that looks to combine academic and community energies to encourage participants to “engage in the craft, design, technology, art and engineering of making through public events and member access”. My needs are modest — I’d like a community space where I can set up some of my Arduinos, work with laser cutters and meet other designers interested in building new things using interesting materials. But will this be the place?

We’ve heard whisperings about the Institute of Making since 2005 (when its Materials Library got started for the use of the UCL Engineering Faculty), but it wasn’t until this year that the Institute decided to host a makerspace as well and position itself as a public-facing centre, a “multidisciplinary research club for those interested in the made world: from makers of molecules to makers of buildings, synthetic skin to spacecraft, soup to clothes, furniture to cities.”

As the makerspace at the Institute of Making opens its doors, we are very interested in how “open” this space will be, especially given its location in the centre of a university campus.

We’ll be especially interested to find out whether the Institute’s Make Space will adopt open principles regarding designs and fabrications, especially with a Flickr account that applies an “all rights reserved” license to its photos. We hope this will not be the case for other products coming out of the Institute. We also wonder whether it be a requirement that Make Space members are also students or faculty at UCL. Will makers and hackers from across interdisciplinary (and professional) paradigms be as fully welcome as the website has proclaimed?

We have already seen many positive examples of this correlation working well in other nations (many of these are spaces that collaborators of our Open Design group are involved with, such as Finland’s first FABlab at Aalto University Media Factory, which from its onset has prioritised making its equipment open to “everyone, not just students” and using Open Design standards). How will this sort of collaborative effort work in the London environment?

Further details about the opening and future events of the Institute of Making can be found on its mailing list. If you’re in London, we’ll see you there!

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