Project: FabLab Genk
Organisation: Social Spaces & Design Hub Limburg
Moderator: Niels Hendriks, Katherina Kitsinis, Katrien Dreessen
For the start-up of FabLab Genk, MAP-it was used to organise the space designated for the lab. The intention of this mapping was to place different elements of a FabLab (machines, work spaces, etc.) on a blueprint of the building, keeping in mind the different obstacles of the space and limiting conditions for the machinery (size, forced ventilation, etc.). Prior to the mapping, all participants were given a guided tour through the building, during which the architects explained the possibilities and restrictions of the space. For example, since the building is classified as cultural heritage, intervention to its façade is prohibited.
The group of participants was diverse, consisting of managers and employees of other FabLabs, (potential) FabLab users, architects responsible for the adaptation of the building, designers, delegates from the city council, researchers, etc. During the mapping, the participants were divided into three groups, each led by a moderator.
In this case, each participant received a prefabricated list of values that are linked to the set-up of a FabLab in Genk (BE), specific stickers representing machinery and other icons related to the FabLab. However, some were left blank for participants to write on.
The mapping followed a pre-defined scenario of two rounds. A scenario orders the mapping tasks within a well-defined time schedule and ensures that at the end of the workshop the research question is covered. In the first round of the FabLab mapping, participants mapped different aspects of a FabLab (values, people, infrastructure and machinery) and placed them on the map. The participants discussed the value of the FabLab for their own person/organisation and the positioning of some machines within the space. They also shared their ideas and experiences on related issues, like safety. At the end of this first round, the group decided which items on the map to lock, using a „lock-sticker‟. Locking something means that participants feel that the particular element is important.
In the second round, a presenter from one group joined another group with her/his group map and explained the content on the map and the preceding discussion. The members of the other group were confronted with a different interpretation of FabLab Genk, but had the opportunity to express their opinions on it by „bombing‟ or „liking‟ parts of this map and adding new elements to it.
The mapping session was concluded with an overall presentation of all presenters explaining the contents of and changes to the maps. One of the conclusions of the mapping – next to more constructive ideas – was that all participants felt that the designated space was not suitable for housing the FabLab.
** For further reading, see: Huybrechts, L., Dreessen, K., Schepers, S. (2012). Mapping design practices: on risk, hybridity and participation. Proceedings of the 12th Participatory Design Conference: Vol. 2 (12). Participatory Design Conference. Roskilde, 12-16 August 2012 (pp. 29-32). Danvers, MA: ACM.