Transformation Lab / Shop

makerspace transformation infrastructure blueprint city

Blueprint of facilities for reuse / upcycling of materials in urban contexts.

Update on June 2021: see more information about the process of prototyping this concept in these lab notes.


Plans for setting up urban infrastructure for reuse / upcycling / redistribution of used materials. Recommendation of equipment, data sources and processes. Plans for creating new kinds of devices and equipment that allow the reuse of materials.

Transformation Labs are oriented toward social and environmental outcomes. There may be different types of Transformation Labs that carry out diverse activities, according to the potentialities of different parts of the city.

Relation to other concept ideas

The Transformation Lab is integrated with the Reuse Commons, acting as the place where materials are evaluated, handled and transformed. Beyond the scope of this research, the Transformation Labs ties in with Fab Labs and Makerspaces as well. However, as can be seen below, participants of this research have expressed concerns about inclusiveness of these forms.

Open Questions

  • How to differentiate from / integrate with Fablabs, Makerspaces, Men's sheds, Repair Cafes, flea markets and other initiatives / organisations?
  • How to promote a culture of inclusiveness.
  • Economic opportunities: courses, shop, repair services (with an attention not to disrupt repair shops).


to come

Target Groups

  1. Community Reuse
  2. Council / Local Authority
  3. Citizen / Household

Supporting Research Data

Repair Journey

I always find them [maker spaces] - It feels like a little bit- I’m not sure if there are enough. I can think of two or three, that wouldn’t be in my area but I know where to find them. At the same time, it feels like there is a certain level of effort that would require for me to go there or get introduced, to participate. I guess there is an accessibility thing. For me, it’s not as straightforward. And I would imagine, for somebody that hasn’t even heard of the notion of such a space, it would be even a few steps further of saying, “I can actually go down there and somebody can help me drill a couple of holes in this thing that I need to fix.” So I think they are still, in my mind, more for makers and people that are already in that mindset. And that doesn’t make them approachable to people in the general public. I don’t think it’s intentionally, it’s just maybe their level of awareness and the level of health and safety that goes into it. (Laughter) But definitely in London, the cost of having a space to- My partner is an artist, and the idea of having to pay – I don’t even remember - £200, £300, £400, to have an empty room with no heating and cooling, just to be able to do some ceramics, is crazy. At least, if you're coming from places where that amount of money could afford you a full house. (Laughter) I think that’s a big issue. For me, logistics, like moving things around, and shelter in London are particularly problematic, for being able to kind of do things that require some level of scale and equipment.

Ecosystem Mapping

What I’ve seen is that there’s a real question with these volunteer spaces that are often based on a membership model, is all the people who are involved in them look very self-similar. They’re male, they’re well educated, they’re usually educated in computer science or engineering. They appear to be very similar types of people.


One of the common factors I’ve seen about maker spaces is often maker spaces will be guilty of making things that are tremendously ingenious, but essentially valueless. They’re interesting, but interesting is not the same as want. How many maker spaces have you been to where you’ve seen another plastic bust of Albert Einstein? The 3D printed bust of Albert Einstein or the marble run that’s made from laser cut pieces of plywood. How fascinating it is, for four minutes. That doesn’t mean you’re actually going to have it in your house.


The interesting thing there is a lot of the times maker spaces are focused on the process, but not actually on the product. What we realised was if we were going to make a space that was financially sustainable and members of the public can come and they can engage in the making process in our workshop, then we had to concentrate on the part of the story that involves value. We have to make sure the things we make are nice and saleable.


What I’ve started to think is that the business model of when people are saying, “Who takes part in maker spaces? How can we change that?” I’d say the answer is you can’t change it. You’ve already encoded in who’s going to take part over the long term with your business model. Your business model has already selected the participants.



A Fab Lab, or digital fabrication laboratory, is a place to play, to create, to mentor and to invent: a place for learning and innovation. Fab Labs provide access to the environment, the skills, the materials and the advanced technology to allow anyone anywhere to make (almost) anything.

Atelier Partagé du Breil

Community repair workshop in Nantes, France.

En janvier 2016, PiNG poursuit ses explorations terrain des tiers-lieux et ouvre un atelier partagé dans ses locaux au Breil : espace hybride entre fablab et jardin partagé, à la fois lieu de bricolage, de création, de réparation, d’appropriation des technologies et de partage des connaissances. Un atelier propice à la médiation numérique et à la mixité sociale. Ce lieu est l’occasion pour les habitants du Breil d’accéder à un atelier équipé et fréquenté par un réseau de personnes capables de les accompagner pour réparer et apprendre à réparer ou encore fabriquer des objets. L’endroit idéal pour regagner confiance en soi en comprenant les rouages de notre environnement technologique. L’Atelier Partagé doit permettre aussi de re-dynamiser un tissu social local et de valoriser ses savoir-faire.


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EU Flag This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813508.