The Bizarre Bazaar: FabLabs as Hybrid Hubs
In this paper we observe how ‘Fablabbing’ as a global social movement (Walter- Hermann 2013) in convergence with ‘the Maker movement’ (Hatch 2013) creates new spaces for learning, innovation, research and self-actualization. On the background of our experiences with establishing and running FabLab RUC as an experimental space for learning, innovation and research, we discuss how ‘working through materials’ enables new forms of student-centred learning. We do this firstly by considering some of the ways lab-based learning has been discussed in the design literature. In particularly we want to address some of the recent debate around “Making” as model for learning in current design and anthropological theory. We then, secondly, move on to consider three cases for knowledge creation in a Fablab context. All three have been drawn from current work at FabLab RUC and demonstrate various key features of what we see as key potentials for the marriage between grassroot movements, academia and high-tech environments. Finally, and thirdly, we discuss the role of “design”, “sketching” and “prototyping” in these cases in order to understand the role of design practices as a learning tool in the fablab. With this background we discuss the characteristics of this space, emphasizing in particular the role of proximity between researchers, students and professionals in art, technology and entrepreneurship as the ‘hybrid hub’ of the bizarre bazaar of the Fablab.