Implementing a Fab City Hub

Test-beds for a resilient urban transformation of industrial historic areas
CENTRINNO pilot cities are developing its own specific approach to a local Fab City Hub during the project. Each Fab City Hub is activated through programs of workshops, events, or trainings that have productive and creative activities at their core and foster collaboration between the local communities of practice and other key stakeholders, such as Municipalities, entrepreneurs, policy makers, industrial actors or educational institutions.
Implementing a Fab City Hub as an experimental facility in your local environment may produce changes by:
  • Developing incremental design of space to create room for real and situated needs to emerge from the community
  • Creating awareness around convivial forms of innovation, manufacturing capabilities, creative citizenship and social connections
  • Combining physical spaces and facilities with digital communication for diverse communities through multi-layered coordination
The Fab City Hub Toolkit supports cities in their implementation of their own Fab City Hubs. Contextualised tools, examples, roadmaps, and a lot of detailed information in the toolkit guide interested organisations and citizens in deploying a Fab City Hub in their local environment.
Even though the Fab City Hub Toolkit is the main resource to implement your own productive hub, we include here some examples of resources that cities could use to implement their own FCH, connecting them also to the CENTRINNO framework and the organisational practices. Nevertheless, if you are interested in exploring the implementation of a FCH in your city, please see FCH Toolkit.

Practice: Developing incremental design of space to create room for real and situated needs to emerge from the community

A Fab City Hub (FCH) offers a permeable space for citizens and groups to experiment together with other actors on productive and circular practices connected with local challenges. Some cities organize Fab City Camps to spread the word locally and organize a local Fab City Hub Community.
It is key to have a spatial strategy. Square meters in cities are a very precious asset, especially on central and accessible areas. Owing or managing a space is a great start, but if you don't have access to a space yet, you may put in a place a strategy to find one. The Communications Handbook for Projects is a comprehensive resource where cities can find useful resources to raise awareness around your FCH concept or its specific approach. Platforms such as a Blog, social media or YouTube channels will also be useful for pilot cities to continuously co-develop and share the narrative of its own FCH, reaching and engaging their target audiences.
Think of your FCH as a test-bed, aiming at increasing impact to the city scale. You may co-create the concept and the spatial approach with your community, and be sure of leaving always room for situated needs of the community. Specific tools and resources are available for this purpose depending on the approach a FCH may adopt, such as the Full Stack Card Game or Street Vote, already described in the previous section. Have also a look at this blog post that narrates how the Fab City Hub in Milan, which has not yet a defined space to operate, is approaching an incremental approach.

Practice: Creating awareness around convivial forms of innovation, manufacturing capabilities, creative citizenship and social connections

Collaborative activities are at the core of the FCHs, including collaborative fabrication activities and workshops focusing on collaborative design and fabrication of tools and artifacts that cover specific community needs and support the development of better conditions of life. This type of activity will benefit from adopting an Open Design Documentation method by creating simple and detailed how-to guides for community designed and manufactured tools that can be later shared to raise awareness around them. These guides can break language and cultural barriers and allow local communities to scale-wide, through the sharing of knowledge and practices. Tools, processes and designs work better when integrated and adapted to the local context.
Oral History Methods are interviews with key figures in the local context that could be done, not by experts, but by peers or collaborators of the FCH community. This could contribute to building the narrative of the FCH around the views and perceptions of the local ecosystem at the same time that the ideas influence the public debate and reach a broader audience. These stories could also enrich the CENTRINNO Living Archive or may be connected with the CENTRINNO School curricula, thus bringing heritage or education to the core of FCH activities. For the latter, the Open Schooling Framework may support FCHs to work as mediators in their local communities, positioning training programs as spaces for collaboration between families, universities, research institutes, companies or civil society organisations. Also, methods such as Gradual Release of Responsibility, frameworks such as Constructivism, or specific tools such as Service Journey, also mentioned in the previous chapter, may be useful for FCHs implementing training activities.

Practice: Combining physical spaces and facilities with digital communication for diverse communities

In some cases, FCHs will host CENTRINNO School activities, interconnecting FCH with vocational training and learning experiences. For this, the Fab Academy Distributed Model offers a great source of inspiration as well as key resources to adopt a distributed approach to learning, based on both physical and digital spaces.
For FCHs focused on Circular Economy, digital platforms such as Materiom, or the Circular Material Library developed by Metabolic, could be used as a source of inspiration to access recipes and specific resources for developing biomaterials or products from waste with their local communities. The DRIVEN x Reflow is an online distributed incubation program developed by Volumes, which aims to embed advanced computational design strategies in early-stage entrepreneurship for a circular economy. The program includes an online training workshop to apply digital technologies to the circular economy that may be useful for some pilot cities.
Fostering manufacturing activities and communities of practice around manufacturing will be key to devise alternative paths to transform industrial historic sites. Make Works online platform is a useful resource for pilot cities to manage and foster this type of communities. So far, in CENTRINNO it has been used as a resource to map manufacturers in different cities and regions worldwide, including Paris and Barcelona. Nevertheless, combined with offline activities, such as gatherings or debates, it has a great potential to to enable FCH participatory communities around manufacturing activities.
Global platforms are a key resource for cities to expand and develop their own approach in their FCH. The Fab City Global Initiative provides cities with tools and resources to foster manufacturing in cities, together with the yearly Fab City Summit, an opportunity for pilot cities to discover and join the initiative. The Distributed Design Platform, a networking hub for the European maker movement, or fablabs.io, which aims at sharing principles, tools, and philosophy to democratize access to technology, may be also interesting resources for cities to exchange knowledge on manufacturing and Fab City Hubs globally and collaborate between online and offline spaces. FCHs operate locally and share knowledge globally.
Tools and methods to implement your own Fab City Hub