Fab Lab Barcelona is one of the cases that we have explored to understand how maker initiatives are organized, how makers improve their skills and how they interact with each other and finally, which values are created by making.
Fab Lab Barcelona is part of IAAC, an international centre for education, fabrication and research dedicated on developing architecture capable of meeting global challenges in constructing 21st century habitability. Besides the Fab Lab in the city of Barcelona, IAAC also provides research opportunities with its Valldaura Labs, a self-sufficient research centre, with a series of labs created to produce and test energy, food and things locally by using close by and available resources to develop technologies and knowledge for services and/or products in the future. The labs include:
- Green Lab: digital fabrication lab making use of natural resources,
- Energy Lab: lab for testing the Energrid project, which aims to meet the needs of the Valldaura Labs’ self-sustainable environment
- Food Lab: food production is handled by researchers and students and makes use of organic gardens, orchards, edible forests products and farm animals.
Fab Lab Barcelona is the head office for the global coordination of Fab Academy programme together with the Fab Foundation and MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms. The Fab Academy is a distributed platform of education and research where fab labs around the world operate as classrooms, with students learning the principles, applications and implications of digital manufacturing technology.
The Fablab’s income derives from three main sources: educational activities (Masters Programme, Fab Academy, workshops); grants (particularly from the EU) and research grants; and from Fab Pro Services (provides access to professionals outside of IAAC).
Fablab Barcelona is led by its director, Tomas Diaz. It follows a horizontal management structure, where group leaders have the final responsibility for their respective working group.
Fablab Barcelona is embedded in a network with neighbouring Fablabs, thus the lab shares expertise and services with smaller labs supporting access to digital fabrication for citizens.
The value and impact of Fablab Barcelona is seen in multiple ways: in changing opinions and behaviours in the sense of not only empowerment through making something of your own, but also being in touch with a community of people who are just like you; and education and human capital.