Barcelona has launched a Fab City project that aims to restore production centres to the heart of the city. The plan is to open fab labs (digital fabrication maker spaces) in every district of the city, and eventually every neighbourhood, to enable local production of almost any kind of goods, the repair and repurposing of old appliances, and the upcycling of waste. The fab labs are also planned to be community problem-solving centres that assist in local energy and food production.
The objective is to move from a linear PITO (products in, trash out) consumption model to a materially self-sufficient DIDO (data in, data out) model that shares information globally while using local materials and expertise for production.
Image: David Meenagh / Flickr
Barcelona is attempting to pioneer distributed manufacturing at a city level. If successful, this could have wider social and economic effects, such as the emergence of a new path out of unemployment, and perhaps even a new paradigm for the local economy.
Tomas Diez, Director of Fab Lab Barcelona, believes we are in a time of transition to a "Second Renaissance" where manufacturing moves back to its artisanal roots and people shift from being mere consumers to co-producers. As digital fabrication technology continues to improve and drop in price, local custom-built solutions will increasingly displace the generic and mass-produced.
Barcelona Metropolis (2014, September). From Fab Labs to Fab Cities