Monday, July 28, 2008

Signs of UK Co-operative and Open-Access workshops

I have been a little quiet lately but that doesn't mean that I haven't been productive in my research.

I located a pay-as-you go workshop in London. Based in Acton, 'MakingRoom' looks rather good. The website gallery depicts and large and modern carpentry workshop that is available for use at prices starting from £90 per day. The bias certainly seems to be towards wood working and hence I don't think there is any opportunity for the milling of metal, welding, 3D printing etc. Furthermore the price is quite steep for casual non-commercial users. However it is promising that such endeavours have already sprouted on this side of the Atlantic.

With these discoveries in mind I thought it worth continuing my exploration of London based workshop facilities. I recently returned to the message boards and posted requests for information regarding UK based co-operative and open-access workshop facilities to both dorkbotlondon and Makezine forums. From the start I haven't expected the Makezine post to yield much information as it is - as you would expect - US centric. And why not, I'm rather impressed with the organization of the US Maker movement.

However, I hoped that dorkbotlondon has it's collective finger on the pulse of London and so far it hasn't been a total disappointment. A couple of members have responded to me and one made me aware of the SomethingLabs studio in Bethnal Green. Along with desk rental the space includes an 'occasional use' workshop. I have sent along an inquiry to find out whether they'd be supportive of projects with an engineering and workshop bias. Interestingly one of SomethingLabs residents is - a European distributor of the Arduino platform.

On a related note I'd like to see the UK circulation statistics for Make magazine in UK regions to get an idea on the size and distribution of the UK Maker community. Last time I looked, Make was on sale in WHSmiths, so along with 'Canal Boat' it's apparently gone mainstream in England - another good sign for UK Makers. Incidentally - I do like canals and canal boats although I have never bought the publication ;-)

My next steps will be to check out what kind of workshop spaces are available to rent in London although I'm quite certain they'll be out of this individuals price range...

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