Fab 11

Fabbers from all over the world were invited during the FAB 11 Boston to “hands-on workshops, talks, planning meetings, project demonstrations, informal opportunities to connect and fabricate and fun celebrations”. Alejandra Díaz de León Lastras, part of the Fab Lat Kids team, is exclusively reviewing FAB 11 for Arch2O.

From the beginning to the end of the event, through the conferences, events and activities, there was a clear emphasis in highlighting that the digital fabrication revolution within the fab labs should be social not technological.  It’s the link between technology and the communities which makes a project innovative.

The Fab 11 Conference reunited 78 countries and it was organized by the Fab Foundation and the Center of Bits and Atoms. It took place in Cambridge, Massachussets, in different venues. Some of them were rooms in different buildings of the university and others were outdoors and set specially for the conference. In my case, for example, they gave the Fab Lat Kids Teams a Fab Lab Mobile to work on.

The daily events and conferences focused mainly on Making robots, Making movies, Making life and Making Policies, you can watch the talks of the 2 first subjects here.

Making Life presented the possibility of integrating Biology into the current fablab dynamics.  “Machines that make machines, codes and materials” can enter this world in a similar way but changing scales and material properties.Subjects such as synthetic biology, chemical factories and programming DNA were discussed as well as the concept of personalizing local biological devices. This panel reinforced the merge between fabrication and biology and it has opened a new branch in the world of fab labs. This idea is the base of the new program of Fab Foundation called How to grow [almost] anything.

Making Policies focused on the point of view of a “fabber”, considering there are little chances to make whatever you are making profitable. There was a workshop called Fab Economy, held at the Harvard University Campus. There, the idea of created a fab coin was brought to the table as a kind of barter or exchange of services from people who want to make things in the fablab and how they can collaborate to make it more productive.

The Floating Fab

One of the initiatives that is having a lot of support of Fab Foundation is the Floating Fab Project that has been developing for over a year. The idea is to build a Floating Fab Lab in the Amazon River that can bring technology and innovation to areas that are hard to access along the river. This projects is huge and has to be developed in a collaborative way through the network, which is why there were different meetings where people from fablabs around the world could come, hear about the project and join it. The Amazon River is an ecosystem of worldwide interest and that’s why it is being supported so much. After Fab11, the Latin American Network of Fab Lab had the opportunity to meet with the World Bank to discuss about the possibilities of supporting the project.

Courtesy of team Argentina

Courtesy of team Argentina

The Symposium took place at the Symphony Hall of Boston the 6th of August and the speakers were all graduates from Fab Academy in different years. In my opinion, the symposium was the best part of the Fab11 Conference. It was divided in 5 subjects in which 5 to 6 speaker gave a quick talk of their work of project and then there was a short discussion coordinated by a moderator. In between sessions, there were activities (that Neil called Fabxercises) to keep us awake. Definetly fun, you can find my favourite here, min 01:00:00.

How to make Research focused on the development of tools is as important as the development of workflows which help os test or prove conditions, structures or other elements in different scales.

How to make Community relied on the impact of digital fabrication on communities. The Fab Labs give them not just the tools to get involved in the creation process but in the impact they can have in their communities in a social and even economical approach. A very interesting point was about how to bring the “making” outside the fab by connecting to institutions or organizations that can support and/or collaborate with projects within the fablab.

At How to make Education there were discussions regarding how people are not fully aware of what they are learning; they concentrate in the process and naturally obtain many skills. That is why learning in fablabs can’t be forced, people has to come naturally and find a comfortable environment to make and create.

A different point of view about education was mention by Abubakari A. He said that “the learning is not only among the people, but new fablabs are also learning from others fablabs from the way they operate to the processes and ways to make things”.

He mentioned three main missions that each Fab Lab should have: to teach and help people inside and outside the Fab Labs with the objective to use this technology to improve the conditions of their environments, to promote and empower the minds of each person with the purpose of materializing their own ideas and to help you get involved in a creative environment.

The Fab Academy graduation took place in the main Fab11 tent at the MIT Campus where 139 fabber received their diploma (winners are MedxMakers Medical Application (sponsored by Stanford Medicine X): In3 – a low cost incubator by Alejandro Escario, Circular Knitic by Mar Canet and Varvara Guljajeva, Risha Laser Cutter by Moushira El and Emosilla by Fab Lat Kids). 

Courtesy of Alejandra Diaz de Leon

Courtesy of Alejandra Diaz de Leon

The closing party took place at the JFK Library in a casual environment, during which Neil challenged a group of people to build a submarine in 24 hours. Some of them joined the challenged and here is more info about this crazyness.

Fab Fest was during was held at the Reggie Lewis track and Athletic Center of Roxbury, Boston, which is a community with less access to technology and fabrication. On saturday morning, there was a panel of discussion about “Making cities”. Vicente Guallart, chief architect of Barcelona until 2014, explained the concept of Fab Cities and how it is being applied in Barcelona, in order to inspire Mayors of other cities to take the challenge.

Fab Fest was open to the public and there were several activities and exhibitions for an audience of all ages. Among these activities, there were the MIT Mobile Fab Labs in action; Fab Textiles by Anastasia Pistofidou, who put together an exhibition of wearables made in different fablabs of the world. Other activities were the 3D modelling and printing for all by Sophia Georgiou and the workshop for kids “Emosilla” by the Fab Lat Kids Team in which the kids were able to personalize and make their own chair, which was running simultaneously and in streaming with other 6 fablabs of the world.

BREATH

BREATH is a project developed by uAbureau in collaboration with the FAB FOUNDATION. It was held at the Green Rose Heritage Park in Cambridge and focuses in digital fabrication, sensors and ecology, so it becomes a dynamic project that celebrates the public space for everybody around the neighborhood to gather and enjoy.

The fabrication of this pavilion was made in the MIT Fab Lab Mobile and integrates the public space, nature and the new digital tools that can measure the air quality, temperature, level of humidity and it also generates light.

by: Alejandra Díaz de León Lastras

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