Fab City

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= "a global effort to make cities more locally productive using new sustainable manufacturing technologies available in city centres and, ultimately, to realise the Fab City Pledge of 50 per cent self-sufficiency by 2054". [1]

URL = http://fab.city/

"A FAB CITY IS A NEW URBAN MODEL FOR LOCALLY PRODUCTIVE AND GLOBALLY CONNECTED SELF SUFFICIENT CITIES".To


Contextual Citation

Tomas Diez:

"A fab city is not a city full of fab labs. We are aiming for fab labs to disappear, which means that local production is embedded in everyday life." (http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/fab-city-how-can-we-build-more-sustainable-cities}

Definition

The FAB City Challenge:

"In 2014, the then mayor of Barcelona challenged cities to produce everything they consume by 2054. Fab City Global Initiative is enabling this shift away from the industrial paradigm of Product-in Trash-out, by enabling the return of manufacture to cities supported by a Data-in Data-out urban model. It comprises a Network of 28 cities, a core Collective and is governed by a foundation. We are working to make locally productive, globally connected cities and citizens." (https://fab.city/#our-approach)

Description

0. Sharon Ede:

"A Fab City is a locally productive, globally connected, self-sufficient city.

Fab Labs (Fabrication Laboratories) and makerspaces offer opportunities for people to make and produce what they need for themselves, and to bring back to citizens the skills and knowledge needed to make things.

Harnessing these spaces and digital manufacturing technologies in service of the circular economy offers the potential for returning production to cities in the form of distributed manufacturing with microfactories — small scale, cleaner production that is also less wasteful, occurring as-needed, often customised, instead of over-producing for markets." (http://postgrowth.org/the-real-circular-economy/)


1.

"In a Fab City, citizens are empowered to be the masters of their own destiny, their resilience is increased and a more ecological system is developed because movement of materials and energy consumption is drastically reduced. The Fab City has been initiated by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, the MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms and the Fab Foundation; it operates within the Fab Lab network, using it as a global infrastructure and knowledge source for the radical transformation on how we work, live and play in cities." (http://fab.city/)


2. Nesta:

"Describing the initiative as "part project, part network, and part movement", Tomas Diez, one of Fab City's main instigators, argues that the disconnect between consumption and production is at the heart of our cities’ problems. As societies become disconnected from the production of everyday items entirely, we become reliant on importing via supply chains. As Tomas puts it: "We have externalised the responsibility for sustaining our lives".

It isn’t hard to find evidence of this disconnect; the components and labour which combine to create our food, clothes, phones and buildings are sourced from all corners of the world. Fab City hopes to reverse this centuries-old trend. Citizens are being empowered to reclaim the means of production and manufacturing to create anything in their own cities, from food to prosthetic limbs, using sustainable technology and tools." (http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/fab-city-how-can-we-build-more-sustainable-cities)


3. Karen van der Moolen:

"The Fab City is a new urban model where citizens are empowered to be the masters of their own destiny, their resilience is increased and a more ecological system is developed because movement of materials and energy consumption is drastically reduced. The Fab City is 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, towards a circular city model. The Fab City Initiative already has sixteen members (cities, regions or countries), and is expecting over twenty five by the end of 2017. (https://medium.com/@karenvdmoolen/towards-socially-inclusive-and-sustainable-neighbourhoods-in-european-cities-f0f5450c70a0)

Characteristics

The Fab City Pledge wants to achieve the following by 2054:

"Self-sufficient cities

  • Cities produce at least 50% of what they consume
  • A global repository of open source designs for city solutions
  • Materials are source locally through recycling and digital materials"

(http://fab.city/#fabcity)


Discussion

By Christel van de Craats (together with Tomas Diez):

"At the core of the Fab City strategy is the development of a global network of cities that are a part of a sustainable ecosystem of production and knowledge: from a 3D printer at home to the neighbourhood’s Fab Lab, and from the city factory to global production infrastructure. In a Fab City, the number of imported goods – like food and resources as water and energy – need to be reduced. To make this possible, urban farming needs to evolve from experimental practices to a larger scale infrastructure. Local production of food at domestic, neighbourhood and city scales create a closer loop system for food production and harvesting. The use of recycled, raw materials for the production of objects in cities should be increased. this way, we create added value in every iteration of a new product, in a new spiral economy approach. A new productive ecosystem to rescale globalisation and provide the means of innovation to empower citizens. This process involves a huge cultural shift. One that promotes the empowerment of cities and their citizens.

To become a Fab City requires having a more precise knowledge of the way that cities work. The evolution of the movement will make it possible to create better systems of capturing and analysing data, developing knowledge about each city and sharing it, and it will require the implementation of an evaluation system and detailed monitoring: the Fab City Dashboard. The Fab City strategy is unique in that it addresses a range of environmental, social and economic objectives (carbon reduction, waste minimisation, relocation of manufacturing and work) in a system approach to harness new technology and production approaches. All of this is brought to a practical level, by connecting with the existent Fab Lab Network and complementary productive ecosystems; a vast source for urban innovations being shared already globally by makers in more than 70 countries and 1,000 labs. The first city to become self-sufficient – simultaneously increasing employment by creating opportunities through open innovation, and radically reducing carbon emissions by relocation production – will lead the future of urban development globally.

The Fab City approach can contribute to achieving a range of city objectives. It helps civic leaders to develop locally productive cities in collaboration with local communities, companies and institutions by revitalising manufacturing infrastructure and offering incentives towards a new economy. Fab Lab and makerspace-based innovations could be a source for solutions to connect to real problems in cities, opening opportunities for businesses, research and education through projects in the digital realm. In this approach, citizens and cities are empowered to be the masters of their own destiny as their resilience is increased. With the circulation of materials and associated energy consumption, a more ecological system is developed in which carbon emissions – typical for the current economy – are drastically reduced; atoms stay in cities while bits travel globally. In order to make this happen, the city must be locally productive and globally connected to knowledge, economic and social networks. In this connection, the cooperation between cities, citizens and knowledge centres form the basis of scientific knowledge.

A concerted and coordinated response must be made to reimagine how, where and what we make if we are to live harmoniously within the bounds of the planet’s resources. Fab City proposes a model for cities to be resilient, productive and self-sufficient in order to respond to the challenges of our time. It also proposes the recovery of knowledge and the capacity to make things, to produce energy, to harvest food and to understand the flow of matter, in order to empower its citizens to be leading agents of their own destiny. The Fab City is about radical transformation. It is about re-thinking and changing our relationship with the material world, in order to continue flourishing on this planet." (https://citiesintransition.eu/publication/the-fab-city-movement?)

Source: This publication was written by Christel van de Craats together with Tomas Diez and originally appeared in New Amsterdam Magazine #10. [2]


Examples

Barcelona

Sharon Ede:

"In Barcelona, a 1km x 1km area in the Poblenou district has been designated the ‘Maker District’ with the objective of prototyping a fractal of a Fab City, focusing on:

  • Fabrication & materials: with complementary production ecosystems happening inside the local network of Fab Labs, citizens have the possibility to produce what they consume, recirculating materials inside the neighbourhood and the city to reduce waste and carbon emissions associated with long-distance mass production and distribution chains.
  • Food production: growing food on the rooftops of Barcelona. Through urban agriculture practices, citizens can grow part of what they eat turning production of local clean food in a regular part of their lives.
  • Energy: Renewable energy production. With the arrival of domestic batteries and the cost drop of solar technologies, citizens have the tools to produce part of their domestic energy consumption."

(http://postgrowth.org/the-real-circular-economy/)

Discussion

"Cities are where most of the planet’s population now live, and they offer the best opportunity to effect practical change at scale, and in a context to which people can relate. Cities are at the heart of addressing the social and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

The FAB City is 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.

FAB City is a new urban model of transforming and shaping cities that shifts how they source and use materials from ‘Products In Trash Out’ (PITO) to ‘Data In Data Out’ (DIDO). This means that more production occurs inside the city, along with recycling materials and meeting local needs through local inventiveness. A city’s imports and exports would mostly be found in the form of data (information, knowledge, design, code).

In this way, the citizens and the city are empowered to be the masters of their own destiny, their resilience is increased and a more ecological system is developed because the movements of materials and the associated energy consumption and carbon emissions typical of the current economy are drastically reduced. In order for this to be possible, the city must be locally productive and globally connected to knowledge, economic and social networks, making cooperation between cities, citizens and knowledge centers the basis of the scientific knowledge.

To become a FAB City requires having a more precise knowledge of the way that cities work. The evolution of the project will make it possible to create better systems of capturing and analysing data, developing knowledge about a city, and it will also the implementation of an evaluation system and meticulous monitoring.


This initiative is a great economic opportunity for participating cities. It will create new types of jobs and professions related to the knowledge economy and the development and implementation of new approaches and technological solutions, including:

  • Manufacturing locally, and creating global impact: A global network of cities that share knowledge and best practices on urban solutions emerging from citizens, companies, educational institutions, and governments. Local networks of Fab Labs and production centers connected to the larger global network of supply chains, sharing knowledge, best practices and projects.
  • Distributed energy production: With the advent of domestic batteries and efficiency improvements in solar and other means of clean power generation, energy distribution itself will face enormous changes. Distributed grids will change the role of households and businesses in power, water and resources distribution.
  • Cryptocurrency for a new economy: Cities creating their own trade markets connected to a global economy, using a multi-currency and value system based on the blockchain and similar technologies.
  • Food production and urban permaculture: Urban farming will scale up from experimental practice to large scale infrastructure. Local production of foods at domestic, neighbourhood and city scales, will create a closed loop system for food production and harvesting.
  • Educating for the future: incorporate a stronger emphasis on learning-by-doing in education systems and curricula, and engage all levels of education in finding solutions for local needs, through digital fabrication technologies, and sharing them with global networks.
  • Building the future circular [spiral] economy: Reduce the amount of imported goods, food and resources like water or energy. Increase the use of recycled raw materials for the production of objects in cities.
  • Collaboration between governments and the civil society: local government and civic organizations, start-ups, universities, and other organizations must work together in order to make a cultural shift that promotes the empowerment of the cities and their citizens.

All these initiatives will be supported by technologies such as digital manufacturing, energy rehabilitation of buildings and neighbourhoods, smart energy networks, electrical mobility, urban permaculture, intelligent infrastructure, and related policy and regulatory approaches, among other solutions to be shared globally between cities.

The Fab City project was launched in 2011 at the FAB7 conference in Lima by the Institut d’Arquitectura Avançada de Catalunya, the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms, the Fab Foundation and the Barcelona City Council. This initiative is open for other cities, towns or communities to join in order to collectively build a more human and inhabitable new world, and join the Barcelona pledge: a countdown for cities to become self-sufficient by 2054." (http://fab.city/about/)

Examples

Poblenou neighborhood in Barcelona

Nesta:

"One of these ‘aeroplanes’ is the newly designated makers’ district in Barcelona’s Poblenou neighbourhood. Working in partnership with the council, fab city enthusiasts hope to create a fab city Prototype in Poblenou as the area becomes an experimentation playground for trialing new systems of production and interaction. Similar schemes are taking place in Paris and Amsterdam.

The prototype sees residents experimenting in three main areas: material production, food production, and energy production. At the most fundamental level, this means manufacturing goods in makerspaces, growing food on rooftops, and storing energy collected via solar panels in domestic batteries. However, if enough citizens become empowered as producers rather than simply consumers, a whole new range of relations and transactions are possible. (http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/fab-city-how-can-we-build-more-sustainable-cities)


Cooperation with IKEA

Nesta:

"Fab City has also attracted the attention of some of the manufacturing industry’s biggest players. Fab City recently welcomed members of IKEA’s design, production and sustainability teams to Barcelona to experiment with new models of production and distribution. Tomas is confident of the potential of localised production to enhance existing business models.

"Rather than IKEA having warehouses outside the city where they can store stock which travels thousands of kilometres, and then people buy IKEA products before becoming part of the assembly line, IKEA is going to have stores in neighbourhoods where products are going to be manufactured on demand, possibly in collaboration with citizens and their designs."

A report on the cooperation between IKEA and Fab City will be published in December. However, if recent pop-up IKEA stores in central locations in Madrid and Barcelona are anything to go by, it would appear that the company is reflecting seriously on how its production model can be adapted to new localised manufacturing techniques in the future. This integration of the present into the future is at the heart of the Fab City vision." (http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/fab-city-how-can-we-build-more-sustainable-cities)

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