Fab Cities

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= concept, and, theme of the FabLab10 conference in Milan, and project by the city of Barcelona



"the city council hopes to use to establish a network of neighbourhood Fablabs. The aim is to have, within around six years, ten active workshops integrated with the local community, one for each area of the city." (http://www.domusweb.it/en/design/2014/07/17/from_fablabs_to_fabcities.html)

2. From an interview with Tomas Diez, conducted by Simone Cicero:

"The city council expects to open at least 12 labs in the coming years. There are emerging community based initiatives like MADE, and private initiatives as Fab Café (brought from Tokyo and Taipei by MOB). We have been pushing hard to get the city council to support those community and private initiatives in order to build a richer ecosystem around digital fabrication, it seems that will work, right now there is a lot of collaboration being built, and it is hard not to fall into the dynamics of a “small” city like Barcelona, and move from competition to real collaboration, I think is a matter of time and will happen at FAB10 and the Mini Maker Faire, will bring different communities together and help to build the Fab City, which is not one-side vision of the city as a laboratory, but a complete ecosystem which includes also industry, universities, commerce and many more actors which could benefit and participate of it. The municipality is a big entity, and they have their vision of creating their very own spaces, which are being also called Ateneus de Fabricació (in a more local basis), my concern is the interpretations that the public sector can make of Fab Labs, we are try to work as close as possible and is working, but there are always risks.

[SC] At which stage is exactly the Fab City Barcelona project and vision?

[TD] I think we will about to presence the big bang moment of the FAB City at FAB10! As I said before, there is a lot going on in Barcelona, and the plan is not to have a plan, but to be able to navigate with a clear vision of which is the city we want and how we want digital fabrication and collaboration to play within it. The FAB City will turn Barcelona in a productive city in few years, bringing back productivity inside the city, to the citizens, to promote local innovation connected to a global network, to re-industrialize the city, and to produce value on top of that, which will affect every single aspect of the life of people. We are in a global transition, FAB City is part of that, I like the idea of the medieval cities, protected by the walls, and in which you were living in the same place you were working or producing, I think FAB City could be compared with a high tech medieval city connected to a global network of knowledge produced in other cities.

“We are in a global transition, FAB City is part of that.” – Tweet That!

[SC] Last time we met you mentioned that other cities were about to join the FabCity project: what cities are about to join? Do you see big differences in how these cities see the Fab City concept (what specific views, perspectives for each city)?

[TD] What has been fantastic is that the vision has gone faster than the materialization of the project, and many people and communities are telling us: we want to make a FAB City! We don’t know how to make a FAB City, we are actually learning how to do it while we are doing it, and it is great to do it together with other cities. Lima with Beno and Victor leading, and Yokohama with Hiroki, Emi and Hiroya leading, are the most advanced ones, but their challenge so far has been to convince their governments, and it happened! So now the first Fab Labs are operating and we are exchanging ideas all the time of how this should work, or getting to know what is the other doing. Yokohama and Barcelona might take the collaboration into another level since they are sister cities and have other common projects, so we expect to make big announcements at FAB10.

[SC] I’ld also love if you can tell us a little more about two additional projects birth out of Barcelona Fablab: the Green Fablab and Smart Citizen. My idea is that these two projects strongly relate to the holistic vision (fablabs as part of a more complete vision for cities) you’re promoting in Barcelona: what do you see in these project’s future?

[TD] Absolutely, FAB City is a sensor, the nature, the citizen, the technology and many more! It is all aligned with the vision of the Self-Sufficient City that Vicente develops in his book, is the practice of many ideas that might sound crazy few years ago but which today are becoming very very relevant. The Green Fab Lab is part of a bigger project called Valldaura Labs, which is located at the Collserola Park in the very center of the metropolitan area of Barcelona. We aime to relate nature, technology and history to build the next generation of Fab Labs, which will need to be more sustainable, holistic and resilient to their context. Valldaura has the Energy Lab, the Green Fab Lab and the Food Lab, the three pillars of Self-Sufficiency, but I recommend to read the book." (http://www.open-electronics.org/global-transitions-fab-labs-and-fab-cities-interview-with-tomas-diez/)


The Barcelona 5.0 Plan

Sara Alvarellos:

"As Tomás Diez, director of the Fab Lab Barcelona project, explains in interview at owni.eu held in November 2011, their idea is to make Barcelona a Fab City. The current urban layout of Barcelona can be seen as a product of major events like the 1992 Olympics and the Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004. For the future of Barcelona, Vincente Guallart (former director of the IAAC and chief architect of Barcelona), and Antoni Vives (deputy mayor in charge of urban planning and information and technology) aim to build Barcelona 5.0.

This proposal consists on a fab city made up of an interconnected community of neighborhood fab labs. The venues’ goals would be to encourage entrepreneurship and interest in innovation that have already been present in Barcelona throughout centuries. As they see it, bringing factories back to cites will lead us through a new industrial revolution where production methods and social bonds will be transformed. To set the project up they are currently developing a brand – FabCity. A foundation would promote the project and it would be funded by the public and private sector. The goal is to set up a fab lab in each neighborhood to produce devices and products for the local community. Right now they are still reflecting on how to make these fab labs economically viable. Fab labs would be eventually managed by neighborhood’s residents that would have assisted to training courses.

On the other hand there is an important project going on in Barcelona seeking to make it a smarter city. Guallart’s team has been developing a model to define the anatomy of cities, using a set of common parameters, that could be used worldwide to characterize each city. It is called City Protocol and it aims to be a kind of unique “city ID card”. Guallart briefly sketched the model at the Smart city expo in Barcelona. City Protocol is a certification based system that aims to offer a unique fingerprint for each city, based on several parameters like information, water, energy, mobility and production. This last area could be used as the appropriate environment to develop the FabCity deployment project. As Neil Gershenfeld sees it, cities would become truly self-sufficient by developing these projects. He describes this scenario as “a solution to avoid the economic and ecological disaster of the current global production system”." (http://complexitys.com/english/44-fabbing-cities-barcelona-fab-city/)


Simone Cicero:

'Fab10 conference was dedicated to the theme of the Fab Cities. The Fab City vision, according to Tomas Diez – one of the leaders of this movement and organizer of the Fab10 that I recently interviewed – “will turn Barcelona in a productive city in few years, bringing back productivity inside the city, to the citizens”, moreover FabCity will “promote local innovation connected to a global network, to re-industrialize the city” and will affect every single aspect of the life of people as part of global transition." (http://meedabyte.com/2014/08/06/going-beyond-openness-transforming-supply-profit-and-value-chains/)

More Information

  • Barcelona-Metropolis details on the fabcity 5.0 plan www.plan-c.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Barcelona-Metropolis-uittreksel.pdf http://ow.ly/OkVBl