Fab City Barcelona

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From an interview with Tomas Diez:

* "Why is Barcelona relying on the Fab City? And what are public fablabs?

Barcelona wants to become the prototyping capital: it is even an official initiative launched by the city council last week. The ecosystem that is being built comes from private and public initiatives around the use of digital fabrication in different sectors. This is why the city council of Barcelona supported the creation of the Ateneus de Fabricació, public service fablabs that are included in the political strategy of Smart Cities. Today, let’s say that there are real fablabs like ours, makerspaces and fabcafes, but also labs of large companies such as HP, the 3D Printing division of which has its global headquarters in Barcelona.

* When you speak of private initiatives, do you therefore include company fablabs, not just independent fablabs?

Absolutely. Large companies as well as small start-ups. For example, one or two shops selling 3D printers also offer free access to services where you can scan and print you files. In a tourist city like Barcelona, it makes sense… Consequently, a whole ecosystem emerges around the Fab City project. This is why we are supposed to receive substantial support from the government.

* Why supposed to? Has the expected support not arrived?

It’s quite weird in fact. It is difficult to make public authorities understand that we do not want to bureaucratise fablabs. It isn’t about incorporating fablabs into governmental structures, but rather about hacking them. The city of Barcelona is however making big efforts, among other things with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), a teaching concept in the classroom based on new technologies (learning by doing) in secondary education. Imagine all these initiatives coming from the public and private sectors, companies, education… Something unique is cooking in Barcelona.

* Following up on the culinary metaphor, don’t you thing a kitchen expects a chef? What can you say on the manner in which these initiatives are coordinated?

It’s the most difficult part. Conceptually, since FAB 10 Barcelona, let’s say that we are finalizing the recipe. But in practice, governance is complicated. Because each person has their own interpretation of fablabs and approaches are very diverse regarding the use of digital fabrication. What we can do, for example, is to say which simmering initiatives are fablabs and which ones are not. We can decide at 100%. If an interpretation seems too far off or bizarre, we will say: “No, it is not a fablab.”

The fablab BCN (Barcelona) works in coordination with the Fab Academy and on the development of the fablab.io platform. It is not about control, but about conservation around the values and the essence of fablabs." (http://www.makery.info/en/2015/03/13/tomas-diez-tout-un-ecosysteme-emerge-autour-de-la-fab-city-a-barcelone/)