Community Lab by Sustainable Living Lab

A place to work on maker projects that emphase sustainability

Community Lab UWCSEA, 1 Tampines Street 73, Singapore 528704

Makerspace Humanitarian lab

Space size 300 m²

Opened in September 2016

Structure type Private Company

Explored in July 2017


The Community Lab is a space dedicated to imagine, design and build innovative solutions focusing on sustainability. It gathers volunteers around common projects and the makerspace is freely available to prototype them.

Main interests

Recycling & upcycling Entrepreneurship Energy & environment Agriculture Robotics Education Design Electronics Technology - machines & tools Self-sufficiency Community Social initiatives Humanitarian

This workshop is great for:

Entrepreneurs General public Students Large companies

The closest workshops nearby are:

Interview & guided tour

Meet someone from the team & discover the space by yourself!

Our workshop

Learn more about our space, members, machines & services!

Crossing the doors of the Community lab is a jump into the pool of making. Located under the UWCSA school, the place is filled with tools, machines and “work in progress” projects. One thing is certain: the space deserves its name of “Community lab”. Here you can come across a team building, a precious plastic machine, a rooftop farm based on hydroponic or a teenager creating a paper recycling machine. All projects have a common factor: they focus on one of the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

Its founders were not at their first attempt when they opened the place in September 2016. In 2010, they were the first to open a “prototyping studio” inside their University. And in 2011, they co-created with an NGO the “Sustainable living lab”(SL2), dedicated to find and develop sustainable responses to the challenges of the 21st century. The team has been very committed to build the maker community in Singapore, and co-founded with other companies the SEAMNET (Southeast Asia Makerspace Network) network, to help the maker spirit to spread across the region.

According to its co-founder, the Community Lab is “a tool“ built by the Sustainable living lab, to help the makers reaching their goals and develop meaningful projects.

To join the Community lab requires a bit of personal engagement. Hence users are all motivated people willing to work on common projects. Users of the lab are volunteers, who agreed to join a collective project during an 8-week program.

According to the lab’s team, most of the volunteers are in a transitional period of their lives. It can be students out of the national army service, fresh retirees, workers between 2 jobs… 60% of them are between 20 and 30 years old while 25% are above 50. An interesting figure is the proportion of female users (60%), still very uncommon in the makerspace world. If the lab’s team does not know the clear drivers of this statistic, the fact that the focus of the projects are on sustainability might be a factor of attractiveness.

There are 260 regular volunteers (coming to the lab at least once a week) working on common projects. All projects are proposed and selected by the community. As a “cycle of project” lasts at least 8 weeks, most of the users come regularly to the lab to achieve it. This system of volunteering allowed the development of a strongly involved community in the lab. On top, users can often be asked to lead labs’ workshops, which provide them extra revenues.

The SL2 Company has been fully bootstrapped by its co-founders. Students, they attended a few competitions and with the prizes they won, they were able to launch they first lab in 2011, for an initial investment of 50K€.

The Community Lab was set up using all the machines and tools from the first lab, with an extra investment of 5K€ to refresh the building. The community of makers has been involved in designing and helping to build the new lab, which helped to keep the costs low.

The revenue model of SL2 is focused on providing services, and does not include membership fees. The lab is free of use for any volunteer. Over 2017, the team expects to reach 0,8MM€ of revenues, coming mostly from corporate workshops (50%), schools workshops and consultancy (25%), and long-term projects with public sector (25%).

Regarding their operational costs, as many makerspaces, 80% is dedicated to manpower, and the rest to the machines, materials, and electricity.

According to the team, SL2 has reached its peak in Singapore, and is now looking to expand its services in South East Asia. They will set up a first new branch in Indonesia, where they are already working in partnership with local makerspaces, and will then target Thailand and Vietnam. They would like to start cross-border projects, with volunteers from different locations.

The Community Lab is directly integrated in the Sustainable Living Square (SL2) Company, which has 7 full-time positions and 3 interns. Today SL2 is organized in 3 main teams. Each of them includes a volunteer program (see our best practices) and runs workshops for several publics.

Sustainable innovation team: they work on projects with corporates, and animate workshops. The practice includes a prototyping as a service activity, hackathons organisation and customed workshops.

Repair team: it organizes workshops to teach how to repair easily objects. It includes skills training workshops and repair as a service. The team also offers repair services to the public.

Community projects/ involvements team: it is dedicated to projects of public interest, with the government or environmental agencies. It includes mostly on-demand long-term projects, and workshops on design thinking for public institutions.

Another program worth mentioning is the Makedemy one. It was once created as a team of SL2, and has been taken over by volunteers as an independent company. This activity focuses on creating educational content and workshops for schools.

The lab is also dedicated to spread the maker movement, and organizes public workshops on a regular basis, as well as big events such as Maker Faire.

SL2 set up key partnerships with different organizations such as Intel for their “Intel Maker Tomorrow” program, or Autodesk and Bosch, which provide materials and services to the lab as official sponsors.

The documentation of all the lab’s activities (excluding volunteers program), is made by each team member, and shared internally (workshops, projects…). All projects developments are followed using Asana tool. No documentation is shared externally yet.

Regarding volunteering programs, it is up to each team to document their projects, but the lab encourages them strongly and even provides them a documentation methodology. The reason behind that: a volunteer program lasts 8 weeks and can be renewed, so the project documentation might be useful for the following ones.

Crossing the doors of the Community lab is a jump into the pool of making. Located under the UWCSA school, the place is filled with tools, machines and “work in progress” projects. One thing is certain: the space deserves its name of “Community lab”. Here you can come across a team building, a precious plastic machine, a rooftop farm based on hydroponic or a teenager creating a paper recycling machine. All projects have a common factor: they focus on one of the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

Its founders were not at their first attempt when they opened the place in September 2016. In 2010, they were the first to open a “prototyping studio” inside their University. And in 2011, they co-created with an NGO the “Sustainable living lab”(SL2), dedicated to find and develop sustainable responses to the challenges of the 21st century. The team has been very committed to build the maker community in Singapore, and co-founded with other companies the SEAMNET (Southeast Asia Makerspace Network) network, to help the maker spirit to spread across the region.

According to its co-founder, the Community Lab is “a tool“ built by the Sustainable living lab, to help the makers reaching their goals and develop meaningful projects.

To join the Community lab requires a bit of personal engagement. Hence users are all motivated people willing to work on common projects. Users of the lab are volunteers, who agreed to join a collective project during an 8-week program.

According to the lab’s team, most of the volunteers are in a transitional period of their lives. It can be students out of the national army service, fresh retirees, workers between 2 jobs… 60% of them are between 20 and 30 years old while 25% are above 50. An interesting figure is the proportion of female users (60%), still very uncommon in the makerspace world. If the lab’s team does not know the clear drivers of this statistic, the fact that the focus of the projects are on sustainability might be a factor of attractiveness.

There are 260 regular volunteers (coming to the lab at least once a week) working on common projects. All projects are proposed and selected by the community. As a “cycle of project” lasts at least 8 weeks, most of the users come regularly to the lab to achieve it. This system of volunteering allowed the development of a strongly involved community in the lab. On top, users can often be asked to lead labs’ workshops, which provide them extra revenues.

The SL2 Company has been fully bootstrapped by its co-founders. Students, they attended a few competitions and with the prizes they won, they were able to launch they first lab in 2011, for an initial investment of 50K€.

The Community Lab was set up using all the machines and tools from the first lab, with an extra investment of 5K€ to refresh the building. The community of makers has been involved in designing and helping to build the new lab, which helped to keep the costs low.

The revenue model of SL2 is focused on providing services, and does not include membership fees. The lab is free of use for any volunteer. Over 2017, the team expects to reach 0,8MM€ of revenues, coming mostly from corporate workshops (50%), schools workshops and consultancy (25%), and long-term projects with public sector (25%).

Regarding their operational costs, as many makerspaces, 80% is dedicated to manpower, and the rest to the machines, materials, and electricity.

According to the team, SL2 has reached its peak in Singapore, and is now looking to expand its services in South East Asia. They will set up a first new branch in Indonesia, where they are already working in partnership with local makerspaces, and will then target Thailand and Vietnam. They would like to start cross-border projects, with volunteers from different locations.

The Community Lab is directly integrated in the Sustainable Living Square (SL2) Company, which has 7 full-time positions and 3 interns. Today SL2 is organized in 3 main teams. Each of them includes a volunteer program (see our best practices) and runs workshops for several publics.

Sustainable innovation team: they work on projects with corporates, and animate workshops. The practice includes a prototyping as a service activity, hackathons organisation and customed workshops.

Repair team: it organizes workshops to teach how to repair easily objects. It includes skills training workshops and repair as a service. The team also offers repair services to the public.

Community projects/ involvements team: it is dedicated to projects of public interest, with the government or environmental agencies. It includes mostly on-demand long-term projects, and workshops on design thinking for public institutions.

Another program worth mentioning is the Makedemy one. It was once created as a team of SL2, and has been taken over by volunteers as an independent company. This activity focuses on creating educational content and workshops for schools.

The lab is also dedicated to spread the maker movement, and organizes public workshops on a regular basis, as well as big events such as Maker Faire.

SL2 set up key partnerships with different organizations such as Intel for their “Intel Maker Tomorrow” program, or Autodesk and Bosch, which provide materials and services to the lab as official sponsors.

The documentation of all the lab’s activities (excluding volunteers program), is made by each team member, and shared internally (workshops, projects…). All projects developments are followed using Asana tool. No documentation is shared externally yet.

Regarding volunteering programs, it is up to each team to document their projects, but the lab encourages them strongly and even provides them a documentation methodology. The reason behind that: a volunteer program lasts 8 weeks and can be renewed, so the project documentation might be useful for the following ones.

Technologies & processes available

3D printing CNC milling Electronics Laser cutting Wood working tools Traditional tools

Services offered

Repairing objects Workshop memberships Talks & conferences Prototyping Classes & workshops Coaching & project mentoring

Our best practices

The inspiring things we do here to run our collaborative space

The Volunteering program

What is it?

The volunteering program requests from every new joiner of the lab to join a team and work during 8 weeks on a common project. The lab is accessible for free to every volunteer, and only projects from the community are developed inside the space.

In concrete terms?

Every new joiner has to join one of the 3 “volunteer teams” of the lab:

  • Friday social innovation: focusing on social businesses

  • Tech Saturday: developing new technologies for good

  • Repair Sunday: focusing on upcycling

Once they joined a team, they will go through an 8-week process as follows:

  1. Establish clear community goal,

  2. Gather interested members to meet weekly,

  3. Seed initial knowledge in a non-instructional manner,

  4. Encourage collaboration & friendship,

  5. Curate a knowledge sharing platform,

  6. Normalise the act of contributing,

  7. Measure and celebrate milestones,

  8. Iterate… establish a new goal…

During those 8 weeks, each volunteer will learn all skills needed for their project: machine uses, design thinking, software skills…

Why it’s interesting?

This program reinforces the community engagement, as people work together with a common goal. As the lab is free for use, there is no constraint for makers to join and work together. On top, the trainings of the volunteer program ensure SL2 about their level of capabilities, and allow them to recommend their volunteers to animate workshops.


The “Business Unit” organization model

What is it?

The SL2 team is split in different business units, each having a specific focus. Each of these business units is meant to become a spin-off of SL2, once they reach a certain level of maturity.

In concrete terms?

Today SL2 is organized in 3 main teams (Sustainable Innovation, Repair, and Community projects). One year ago, they also had a Makedemy team, focused on developing educational content. But as it reached a certain level of maturity and needed more investment in time an resources to grow, the SL2 team asked if volunteers wanted to take this unit to launch their company. The unit has been taken over by 1 volunteer, who is now running it as a spin-off of SL2, and still uses the Community lab. In 2017, the team is willing to follow the same process for the Repair activity.

Why it’s interesting?

This model allows SL2 to keep its focus in the development of sustainable projects, while letting the good projects they developed grow. It provides also a good opportunity for the volunteers willing to start their own company to take it over.


Our makers projects

Get inspired by the DIY projects of our team & members

Kartikey's paper recycling machine

We all have used paper, old paper, news paper, e.t.c at home, that we normally decide to throw away. However, this machine aims to change all that.

While still in the early stages of the prototyping phase, it is currently fully operational, and can recycle paper into sheets within 7 minutes, producing paper, comparable to hand-made paper quality. This was developed as part of a project for school. This is an innovative try, with no other machine being able to achieve the same in a form factor as small as this.


Heartland Farmers

What’s the project’s story?

Land is scarce in Singapore with new buildings and cities rising all around the country. The challenge of the Singaporean government is to evolve from traditional farming to urban farming. Daniel and Kenneth want to be part of that movement.

Initiated 1 year ago by Daniel, Kenneth joined the adventure a few months after. In January 2017, they integrated the Sustainable Living Lab to develop a prototype of hydroponic urban farm on its very own rooftop. A team of 7 volunteers joined to set up within 6 months this 15-meter long urban hydroponic farm.

Concretely, they pump water from a main tank through a series of 80 buckets, each having their own plant, and they regulate the water flow to each plant via sprinklers. All this water is recycled back into the system through another set of pumps. This whole system is regulated thanks to automatic timer switches.

All the team needs to do is to come once a week to check for leaks, on the health of the plants and do a bit a maintainance on the equipment.

How do they interact with the workshop?

At the beginning of the year, Daniel and Kenneth pitched their idea to the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) which was very well received.

Veera from SL2 dedicated a “Tech Saturday” volunteering session to develop Heartland Farmers. The community lab forked out the initial money for the material and the equipment, provided the rooftop but also a full access to the tools and the workbenches.

What’s next?

The urban farm community is currently running experiments on which vegetables grows best in their set up. The objective is to develop a more specialized line with the same set up, to grow the particular plant that grows best in Singapore.

In a close future, Heartland Farmers could provide food to the school’s very own canteen, some of the establishments in the surrounding area and even develop other urban farms all over Singapore.


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