University co-hosts inaugural Fab City Plymouth Open Day

Students and academics within the University’s cutting-edge digital fabrication and immersive media community have opened their doors to the public to celebrate the inaugural Fab City Plymouth Open Day.

The event honouring Plymouth’s status as the first, and currently only, Fab City in the UK, featured 12 local hubs sharing access to, and information about, their work relating to the initiative.

The Fab City network is a global group of cities and regions aiming to produce all they consume by 2054, leveraging the capabilities of locally available technologies, digital and inclusive design networks and supply chains, and circular economies.

The event drew more than 300 people, businesses, entrepreneurs and students to the hubs to take part in a range of free activities and tours. These celebrated Fab City themes, including digital innovation and technology, food, art, nature, sustainability and business support.

Dr Alejandro Veliz Reyes, Lecturer in Digital Design and Fabrication, in the School of Art, Design and Architecture, said: 

“Creating the country’s first Fab City was a great achievement, and was driven by the ambition and expertise that resides within the University, Plymouth College of Art, and key social enterprises and community organisations. The next step – and what lies at the heart of the Open Day – is to reach out to businesses, organisations and the public and to inspire them to become involved with the Fab City agenda and to appreciate its potential.”

Focusing on aspects such as the circular economy, open data and digital fabrication literacy, community-oriented student work was the focus of the day as the University welcomed visitors to its new Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Labs. Among those students was Matt Holmes, an MA Design postgrad, who delivered hands-on printing workshops using a digitally-built printing press, showcasing the potential of new technologies to reinterpret more traditional crafts.

Bethany Holmes, a postgraduate on the MSc Integrated Design Innovation programme, exhibited her work at the Plot, in Stonehouse, in partnership with Nudge Community Builders, showcasing how she is collaborating with local residents and community organisations on the co-design and prototyping of products and ideas using digital fabrication tools such as 3D printing and CNC (Computer Numeric Control) cutting. And both students made extensive use of the new outreach toolkit, Lab in a Box, which comprises a complete set of digital fabrication tools with the focus on accessibility and user-friendliness.

Sustainability experts at the University also showcased how they are tackling climate change through the research and testing of a range of low carbon solutions, as well as working with the creative industries on the low carbon agenda.

Dr Paul Hardman, Manager of the Sustainable Earth Institute (SEI) and Deputy Director of Sustainability Hub: Low Carbon Devon, said: 

“Participating in the Plymouth Fab City Open Day was a great opportunity to welcome visitors to the Sustainability Hub after an extended period of ‘closed doors’ due to the pandemic. It provided a valuable forum to share collaborative opportunities with organisations and individuals so that we can work towards a more sustainable future.”

Co-hosting the day with the University was Plymouth College of Art’s Smart Citizens Programme. And among the other venues to feature, and organisations to take part, included the Market Hall in Devonport, Nudge Community Builders, Plymouth Scrapstore CIC, Precious Plastic Plymouth and Bikespace CIC.

“By hosting free activities for members of the public including 3D scanning and laser-cutting, the first ever Fab City Plymouth Open Day succeeded in celebrating the range of ways that local people and businesses can access cutting-edge digital fabrication and immersive technologies." 

added Konstantin Leonenko, Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Laboratory Engagement Manager (iMayflower). 

“In so doing, we can help people to realise innovative ideas and develop sustainable solutions for the city and planet.”