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Fab Lab Barcelona is part of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IaaC), where it support different educational and research programs related with the multiple scales of the human habitat.

Access conditions
Get in touch with them
Come to the OpenDays
Lab's address
Institut d’Arquitectura Avançada de Catalunya
Carrer de Pujades, 102
Barcelona, Catalonia
08005 Spain
Website
fablabbcn.org/
Workshop network
Fab Foundation
FabCity
Contact

Hosting Capacity
100 people maximum
  • Lab's size: 800m²
  • Opened in May 2007
  • IaaC & Fablab Network Ltd Company

Fab Lab Barcelona

Fablab looking to change economy & society

Explored by MakerTour on 29.03.2016 icone facebook icone LinkedIn icone Twitter icone Contact

Fab Lab Barcelona in details

All you need to know about the workshop before getting there

Opening hours horaire de Fab Lab Barcelona Map and accessibility
Open the map in a new tab
  • Car / parking
  • public transport
  • People with reduced mobility
Publics & users Machines & tools
  • Laser cutters
  • Vinyl cutter
  • 3D printers (FDM & SLS)
  • Digital embroidery machine
  • 6-axis robotic arm
  • Large milling machine
  • Small milling machine
  • Electronic equipments
  • Workbench tools
  • See machines details
Services provided Nearby workshops
  • MADE Makerspace Barcelona
  • TestLab21
  • Green Fab Lab
  • Fab Lab Vita
  • La Fabrica Del Sol

A guided tour of Fab Lab Barcelona

Interview of Tomas Diez & Santi Fuentemilla Garriga and immersion into the workshop


MakerTour's 6 topics

Understand in depth the mecanisms and practices of this workshop

To document and share with you all the fablabs and workshops we explore, MakerTour has developed its own documentation model. Find the topics we address along with the questions we ask when in a workshop on movilab.org

The mission

In 2006, IaaC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) decided to set up a kind of fabrication laboratory, as a platform for students projects. “In many other schools, the same was happening, creating prototyping facilities. IaaC was collaborating with the MIT, so instead of setting up another prototyping laboratory, we experimented together the creation of a fablab, for more than the students. It opened in May 2007.”

But why a fablab in an architecture institute? “The approach to architecture here is very wide, with different mediums, from bits to geography, from a very small scale to a territory. Understanding that the new technologies emerging would transform cities and societies.”

Tomas Diez (intern there in 2007) became in charge of the lab set up: collaborating with the MIT, choosing the machines, running the projects. “The fablab was thought for the students to make architectural prototypes but also for the people. Not only to reproduce things as they are, but to make almost anything, stuffs you cannot find on a shelf.” Here are some of the projects developed there.

In 2016, “the mission and philosophy are the same, transitioning to the FabCity! We now have different users, with pros, FabAcademy students and kids, but always want people to leave with something.”

The uses

“We are a little different from others labs since we’re within an architecture university. IaaC’s students are the first users, along with the FabAcademy students, the university staff, and the Fab Pro users. External people can’t come everyday to make stuffs, but have the OpenDays to visit and ask questions to the team and community.”

“Our students come from all over the world, creating a bubble of people coming and leaving. And though it’s the first fablab in the EU, it’s not so well-known in Barcelona itself. People know more about the government/council fablabs “los ateneus de fabricació digital" with all the communication made around.”

What do they make here? “Academic students work on self-sufficient building and sustainable ways to make architecture and cities: green facades, water recycling, etc. With the pro members, we “make as a service”, like with Leka Restaurante people. All their interior design and furnitures were made here.”

To go beyond students one-time use, Fab Lab Barcelona is thinking of having them develop a real project for an outside company using the fablab. “One request we had was to make an interactive lamp for a square, that would tell people if they’re making too much noise!”

The pedagogy and animation

Now, the fablab’s team has 15 members (10 full-time). A director, a coordinator, two people on Fab Pro, two on FabAcademy, one for IaaC students, one on FabTextile and others working on specific projects like Smart Citizen!

Coming here for the first time, “we’ll welcome you with smiles (laughs)! Fab Pro people have two ways: the “make it for me” (short-term consumer demand) or the “train me to make it myself” (specific trainings, advices). For the others, you should come here, tell us what you want to do. We’ll see what you can make on your own, point you at resources and give advices all along the way!”

Many events, classes and meetings rythm Fab Lab Barcelona’s life: two sets of workshops (all details here), bootcamps (one-week full days or two-week half-days) once a year, OpenDays once a month, plus conferences and talks!

There, you’ll also find the FabAcademy, six months to learn how to make (almost) anything and its new variations; the PreAcademy (bootcamps) and FabAcademy X (one or two months). And also the FabKids 10-workshop series aimed at 12-year old kids! They’re about educational and recreational activities, focused on design and digital fabrication.

The documentation

“With the FabAcademy students, everything is documented. They have to create their own website to document all their project steps throughout the six months.” All the students websites are there.

“For the fablab, it’s different. We had a wiki where we put all the settings and specs of materials, machines, machines use, etc. It’s not running at the moment though because we are changing servers. Regarding the projects, we have a dedicated page on the website. But it’s more a communication than a project documentation.”

“To document properly projects, we use GitHub and start to use fablabs.io. We don’t have just one platform or system where we share everything!”

With all these different tools, Fab Lab Barcelona people try to document the projects, the fablab’s life, the specs details about materials and machines, among other things. “We don’t force anyone to document. Academic students make portfolios and project books for IaaC, but they don’t use the website or platform.”

The business model

Fab Lab Barcelona initial set up in 2007 cost 150.000 euros. A 3-people team deployed the project. The space work was operated by IaaC, where the fablab is located. The machines were funded with partnerships and the other bought.

Today, the fablab gathers a 15-people team, 150 IaaC students, 20 FabAcademy students and few Fab Pro users. The model? IaaC non-profit org combined to a private company, Fablab Network Ltd Company. Approx. yearly budget? 450.000 euros. The main income sources? One third from education activities: master program, FabAcademy, workshops. Another third from grants, (especially EU): research grants. And the last one from Fab Pro services. The fablab created long-term partnerships with the Fab Foundation and the FabAcademy.

Tomorrow, Fab Lab Barcelona aims to increase its budget to be able to invest into projects, set up more established partnerships with large companies. “Not become bigger, but make it better”, help other labs to exist and develop the FabAcademy.

The success indicators according to Tomas Diez? “Find a mess when you enter, a beautiful mess, that is the very first thing a fablab should show. A fablab should be economically sustainable by supporting many other interconnected but independent projects around. I also think that the response from the team to outsiders also shows the state of the lab. A fablab should be always ready to receive people, and give at least a smile!”

The specificity

“We were the first fablab in the European Union. What happens here is a kind of reference for the rest of fablabs, for some strange reasons (laughs). And this aura attracts people from all over the world to come the fablab. Maybe it comes from our many contacts with the MIT, the fact that we have been creating our network and impacting the city for almost ten years! The city and Barcelona’s environment help a lot.”

Looking at Fablab Barcelona environmental practices, they “try to work as much as possible with regional or Spanish suppliers, for everything. But it’s not always possible so we must get things from Europe or beyond.”

In the city, there are specific days to put the trash in the streets. “This week, we created a workshop about recycled furnitures made from scraps, trashes, and stuffs found in the streets. We try also to recycle as much as we can.”

Projects with environmental impact come to life there too. Like SmartCitizen, an open source technology for citizens political participation in smarter cities, with kits to monitor urban environment data! Another famous one is the Fab Lab House, a solar self-sufficient habitat adaptable and customisable, using fablab community and technologies. Infos and video here.

The great practices of Fab Lab Barcelona

The good initiatives of this workshop which should inspire everyone

FabAcademy & BioAcademy programs

What is it?
Grown from the Fab Foundation network, the FabAcademy and BioAcademy programs want to to teach you how to make and how to grow (almost) anything!

In concrete terms?
The Fab Academy is a digital fabrication program directed by Neil Gershenfeld of MIT’s Center For Bits and Atoms and based on MIT’s rapid prototyping course, MAS 863: How to Make (Almost) Anything. For 5.000€, it offers a 5 month program on digital fabrication, and it could be taken in any of the participating labs in the worldwide fablab network! The BioAcademy follows the same structure to teach How to Grow (almost) anything. It is a synthetic biology program directed by George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard medical school. Both programs are part of the growing Academy of (almost) Anything, also called the Academany!

Why it’s interesting?
The Fab and BioAcademy are two of the most iconic Fab Foundation projects, connecting labs all around the world through collaboration and knowledge sharing. They bring in new people, community life, projects and business. What else can a fablab ask for?

Fab Pro & Fab Kids

What is it?
Fab Pro and Fab Kids are two activities of Fab Lab Barcelona targeted at a specific kind of users, creating custom-made context for them!

In concrete terms?
Fab Pro, as a department of Fab Lab Barcelona, is focused in services of digital fabrication for externals. We work in projects in the field of architecture, industrial design, product development and other services of digital production. The Fab Kids, is a creative laboratory that favors the development of intelligence, creativity and imagination of children and youth. It is a place where thinking is encouraged and innovation occurs, a space where educational and recreational activities take place, focused on design and digital fabrication.

Why it’s interesting?
A challenge for every fablab is to adapt to its environments and users, and to attract group of users who might not come naturally. Fab Pro and Fab Kids are two great examples of developing offers for professionals and kids!

From fablabs to the FabCity, a project born in Barcelona

What is it?
IaaC, MIT’s CBA and the Fab Foundation evolved from the original fablabs network concept, towards the FabCity, a new urban model for locally productive and globally connected self-sufficient cities.

In concrete terms?
“From Barcelona experiment, the FabCity became a global project to develop locally productive and globally connected self-sufficient cities. It comprises an international think tank of civic leaders, makers, urbanists and innovators working on changing the paradigm of the current industrial economy where the city operates on a linear model of importing products and producing waste.” Learn more here.

Why it’s interesting?
Fablabs are not just about digital fabrication. And the FabCity movement is the best proof of it. “It can sound naive to some people, but we want to change the world”, Tomas Diez told us. With local manufacturing, distributed energy production, cryptocurrencies, food production and urban permaculture, learning-by-doing education, spiral economy and collaborations between government and civil society.

Tomorrow's challenges

The future development and projects of the workshop

Accelerate Fab Lab Barcelona’s projects

Tomas Diez explained us he would like to accelerate some of the projects we are working on very hardly like:
- Smart Citizen, an “open source technology for citizens political participation in smarter cities”. It inspired Making Sense, a interconnected project from Fablab Amsterdam.
- Fablabs.io, the world platform referencing all fablabs connected under the Fab Foundation charter and values.
- Fab Textiles, a European Union project gathering 18 partners to change the textile and fashion industry, through the set up of Textile and Clothing Business Labs (TCBL).

Assemble the Fab City Research Lab

The acceleration of Fab Lab Barcelona’s projects goes together with “the idea of moving to a place only for the lab, which now we assemble in the Fab City Research Lab, that joins together Fab Lab Barcelona, the Green Fab Lab and the projects and programs we are running.” More cities like Toulouse & Paris should join the global FabCity initiative during Fab12, the annual community gathering taking place in early august in Shenzhen this year.


Wait, there's more to read!

A few links and ressources about the workshop

At last, MakerTour's team would like to thank Fab Lab Barcelona's team and community
for their warm welcome and the time they dedicated to the initiative!

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