(originally posted at http://blog.somakeit.org.uk/2014/01/20/a-place-of-our-own/)
It’s our very sincere pleasure to announce that we will be holding the Grand Opening of our first dedicated space:
1st February 2014 at 2pm
(please arrive from 1pm)
Unit K6, Liners’ Industrial Estate,
Southampton SO15 3FQ
It’s been a very long road but we’re very excited to finally have a place of our own, allowing us a lot more flexibility and freedom (not to mention warmth!). If you’re not familiar with Southampton Makerspace (or even if you are) you may be interested to read on.
What is Southampton Makerspace?
A hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace, or hackspace) is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialize and/or collaborate.
But we like to think of Southampton Makerspace as a friendly and inclusive community of people who like making things (be they physical, digital or otherwise) and sharing knowledge, experience and tools. Currently the interests of the current membership seem to focus on subjects of technology (3D printing, microcontrollers (Arduino, etc), robotics, home automation, computers (Raspberry Pi, etc) and programming), wood- and metal-work and more arty disciplines such as costume design. We have a significant number of tools available to facilitate these activities and our members are often willing to lend their own personal tools too.
We are keen to attract new members to expand our horizons and build upon other forms of making such as costume design and props, pottery, photography, fine art, glass blowing, baking, games design and anything else that tickles your creative fancy!
Looking back (or: a brief history of Southampton Makerspace)
It all started as a call to Southampton hackers in 2009, followed by a tentative first meeting at the Crown Inn to gauge interest. Then there were some further meetups including a visit and workshop from Mitch Altman and Jimmie P Rodgers of Noisebridge, San Francisco. We started joint meetings with a Dorkbot group at the Arthouse, where we effectively merged and continued to meet monthly for the next few years (except one meeting at ASpace). Finally by September 2012 our community had grown sufficiently that getting a space of our own seemed feasible, so we ran a survey, the results of which were very promising. In the mean time we started meeting at DHaus/Etch; a venue that enabled us to hack easily without having to worry about the safety of other patrons.
At the beginning of 2013 we attempted to set up a makerspace as a charity, but this was quickly quashed by the Charity Commission who insisted that we were an educational outfit and thus must register with Ofsted to qualify. Not being fans of bereaucracy but not giving in easily we decided to go ahead the next best way – as a non-profit company limited by guarantee (CLG) – So Make It Ltd. Whilst we were sorting out the paperwork to register with Companies House one of our members had located someone who could help us out with somewhere to meet and keep our stuff – Tim from rideride Cycle Workshop was very supportive of our venture. He very generous allowed us to use a 500sqft area in the corner of their warehouse at just the cost of the electricity we used until we were big enough to afford a space of our own. We continued to grow and met much more frequently at the rideride warehouse; until finally at the end of 2013 we realised we were big enough to set out on our own and we crowdfunded some capital and started looking for places to go.
Having ruled out a large number of places; at the very end of 2013 we finally found a suitable and affordable place – Unit K6. We signed the contract early in January and spent the rest of the month moving in and improving the space. There’s still plenty to do but we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved – and it’s much easier to heat than our previous space!
The Makerspace has run a number of events covering quadcopter drones, build your own mini-Arduino and use it to power your Christmas Lights, learn to program Node.JS and a behind the scenes of rendering in 3DS Max; not to mention our regular 3D printing meetups and of course our thrice-weekly regular openings. But now we have a place of our own with a dedicated workshop room we hope to run many more events in 2014!
Having a space of our own also gives us a lot more freedom – we intend to expand our number of keyholders significantly. Any member can become a keyholder by passing a short list of sensible pre-requisites. We’ll be “hacking” our front door such that any keyholder can get in to the space by scanning an wireless card or similar (like opening the gates at the London Underground using your Oyster card) which gets past the issues of potentially having to revoke all copies of traditional keys. By having more keyholders we should have the space open considerably more than we’ve been able to commit to in the past, and this also relieves the pressure on the trustees freeing them up to work on growing the space in other ways.