Local participant Nick Halford with his Smart Citizen Kit (Photo credit - Ray Goodwin)

Co-hosted by Plymouth College of Art’s (@plymouthart) Smart Citizens Programme and the University of Plymouth’s (@PlymUni) Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Laboratories, the Open Day saw 12 local hubs come together to share access to and information about their work relating to the Fab City initiative, which champions local production, circular economies, digital social innovation and global collaboration.

Local projects and organisations across Plymouth opened their doors as part of the first Fab City Plymouth Open Day, on 22 September 2021, celebrating Plymouth’s status as the first, and currently only, Fab City in the UK.

Over 300 local people, businesses, entrepreneurs and students visited the Fab City hubs, to discover more about Fab City and take part in a range of free activities and tours.

The hubs celebrated multiple themes, including digital innovation and technology, food, art, nature, sustainability and business support. Bringing together such a diverse range of sectors, the Open Day was the first large-scale Fab City event to be held in Plymouth, showcasing how organisations, projects and local people can work together to make a truly Fab City.

Visitors explore Fab Lab Plymouth_2_Credit_Ray Goodwin

Visitors explore Fab Lab Plymouth Credit: Ray Goodwin

Sustainability and Collaboration

The Smart Citizens Programme based at Fab Lab Plymouth in Plymouth College of Art, the Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Laboratories at the University of Plymouth, and the Market Hall in Devonport, all opened their state-of-the-art venues for the Open Day. Hosting free activities for members of the public including 3D scanning and laser-cutting, the hubs celebrated the range of ways that local people and businesses can access cutting-edge digital fabrication and immersive technologies to realise innovative ideas and develop sustainable solutions for the city and planet.

Eli Zahoui, Smart Citizens Programme Manager at Plymouth College of Art, said:

“When Plymouth applied to join the Fab City network in 2019, there was a lot of support for the idea, but initially it wasn’t obvious how other individuals and organisations across the city could get involved. The Fab City Open Day was all about opening our doors to demonstrate what a great community we’re growing across Plymouth, of individuals, local businesses and bigger organisations, all working together towards the same common goals of using innovative thinking to promote sustainability and really make a difference for the future.” 

Visitors of all ages_Credit_Ray Goodwin

Visitors of all ages explored Fab Lab Plymouth at Plymouth College of Art and learnt about the Smart Citizens Programme - Credit: Ray Goodwin

Vanessa Crosse, a community development officer and BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices student at Plymouth College of Art, said about her visit to Fab Lab Plymouth:

“During the Open Day I discovered the incredible design and fabrication possibilities at the Fab Lab and how these digital technologies are supporting Plymouth to become a Fab City. The Smart Citizens team were very approachable and knowledgeable. Their enthusiasm for their work and their commitment to sustainability clearly showed. I loved the opportunity to laser cut my own coaster, which was great fun!”

Open Day visitor, Vanessa Crosse, with Ian Hankey at Fab Lab Plymouth_Credit_Ray Goodwin

Open Day visitor, Vanessa Crosse, with Fab Lab Principal Technician, Ian Hankey at Fab Lab Plymouth - Credit: Ray Goodwin

Food Plymouth offered foraging tours in Blockhouse park, while in Central Park the Green Minds Living Lab and Pollenize CIC shared how they use digital technologies to monitor and protect the environment and wild species such as bees. Sophie Paterson, Sustainable Food Places Coordinator at Food Plymouth, said: “Our team were able to speak to people of all ages and invite them to consider new ways of engaging with sustainable food, learning how to safely forage in Blockhouse park, sampling delicious local apple juice thanks to the All Ways Apples initiative and exploring how to get involved with a forthcoming campaign to put Plymouth’s #BestFoodForward. 

“Collaborating with The Village Hub in Stoke as a venue for the day resulted in the joy of getting to know their fabulous team even better and the unexpected privilege of hearing some beautiful poetry, courtesy of volunteer and talented poet Sarah. It was a day that felt rooted in community at every level. Thanks to all who made it happen.”

The Green Minds Living Lab team at their stall in Central Park_Credit_University of Plymouth

The Green Minds Living Lab team at their stall in Central Park - Credit: University of Plymouth

Brittany Clarke, Marketing and Communications Assistant at Pollenize, said: “We spent a glorious sunny day at Central Park with our E-Cargo bike, talking to members of the public about pollinator decline and what they can do to get involved. We were really pleased to have such a positive reaction to our work across Plymouth, in particular the community beekeeping and rewilding projects!”

Brittany Clarke with their E-cargo bike_Credit_University of Plymouth

Brittany Clarke, Marketing and Communications Assistant at Pollenize, with their E-cargo bike and decorated beehive in Central Park - Credit: University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth Sustainability team showcased how they are tackling climate change through the research and testing of a range of low carbon solutions, and working with the creative industries on the low carbon agenda. Dr Paul Hardman, Manager of the Sustainable Earth Institute (SEI) and Deputy Director – 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 opportunities, with organisations and individuals, to collaborate with the University on projects working towards a more sustainable future.” 

Promoting Fab City values of circular economy, open data and digital fabrication literacy, the University of Plymouth Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Labs showcased community-oriented student work created at the labs. 

Bethany Holmes, a student of the University of Plymouth MSc Integrated Design Innovation programme, displayed her work at the Plot. Bethany, making use of her Computing background, links material flows and circular sustainable processes around Plymouth. She demonstrates the cross-disciplinary potential of Fab City as well as its distributed nature across a range of companies, social enterprises, research organisations and civic institutions. Her work at the Plot involves working 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 cutting.

Bethany Holmes University of Plymouth

 Bethany Holmes, a student of the University of Plymouth MSc Integrated Design Innovation programme, displays her work at the Plot - Credit: University of Plymouth

Mat Holmes, a University of Plymouth MA Design student, delivered hands-on printing workshops using an iconic piece of technological heritage – the printing press. A culmination of several years of Mat’s close collaboration with printing experts at the University of Plymouth and wider community, Mat has translated and adapted the iconic machine design for the faithful recreation, using the full range of tools and processes available at the Digital Fabrication lab. The symbolism of Mat’s work in the context of the Fab City digital literacy agenda is particularly strong considering the transformative role on society brought about by the invention of the original Gutenberg printing press.

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.

Visitors explore the University of Plymouth Credit_University of Plymouth

Visitors explore the University of Plymouth’s Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Labs - Credit: University of Plymouth

Creativity and sustainability combined at Precious Plastic Plymouth, where waste plastic was transformed through injection moulding into new objects like soap dishes, while at Plymouth Scrapstore CIC, visitors created their own artworks from materials saved from landfill by the Scrapstore initiative. Ocean Studios, where Precious Plastic Plymouth is based, also opened their doors as part of the Open Day. Jane Hembrow, Volunteer and Co-Founder of Plymouth Scrapstore, said: “We offered the opportunity to rummage and chat about how we give waste material a new life through creativity, and have a tour of our site. We welcomed our regular visitors and some new faces, one of which completely fell in love with what we do!”

Visitors to Precious Plastic Plymouth Credit_Precious Plastic Plymouth

Visitors to Precious Plastic Plymouth saw how waste plastic was transformed into soap dishes through injection moulding - Credit: Precious Plastic Plymouth

Social enterprises Bikespace CIC and Nudge Community Builders opened their doors to celebrate the different ways that they support local communities. Visitors to Bikespace’s workshop learnt how they offer training for young people outside of mainstream education, vulnerable adults and supporting refugees. At The Plot, one of Nudge Community Builder’s sites, visitors explored how the previously disused site is now a thriving hub for local businesses.

Hannah Slogget, Co-founder of Nudge Community Builders, said: “The day brought some interested parties looking to learn more about how digital manufacturing might benefit them. It was fantastic to meet so many motivated people in Plymouth and the surrounding areas who want to do their bit, socially and environmentally.”

AJ Bishop, Workshop Manager at Bikespace, said: “Through the Open Day we made useful links with other organisations - we hope this is the beginning of future collaborations with Fab City projects across Plymouth!”

Leading the way for the Fab City initiative in the UK

Plymouth is the first Fab City in the UK, in 2019 joining the global Fab City network of 38 cities committed to producing nearly everything they consume by 2054. Together, Plymouth College of Art, University of Plymouth, Real Ideas, Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Culture worked jointly on the citywide commitment to become the UK’s first Fab City. Originally growing out of the Fab Lab rapid prototyping movement, the Fab City manifesto covers everything from farming and manufacturing to making and culture, asking how we can make the best use of the resources on our doorstep and fully realise the social, economic and environmental benefits of a more circular economy.

Through the Fab City initiative, cities are challenged to enable an urban transition towards locally productive and globally connected cities. By embracing strategies in circular economy and digital social innovation, Fab Cities foster collaboration between a global network of cities and territories to meet the planetary challenges presented by climate change and social inequalities. 

The Fab City Plymouth Open Day marks the start of Fab City events in the city, which will invite even more organisations, projects and people to realise the incredible potential of the Fab City initiative and implement strategies for sustainability and local and global collaboration into their practices, supporting Plymouth to achieve its Fab City aims by 2054.

Sign up here to the next Fab City Forum on 22 October 2021, and learn more about Fab City Plymouth here.

This activity is part of the iMayflower project and has been supported by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who fund the Cultural Development Fund, which is administered by Arts Council England.

About the Smart Citizens Programme

The Smart Citizens Programme offers workshops, Community Meet-Ups, and training with accreditation in digital design and fabrication. Connecting citizens and enterprises with digital technologies skills, the programme empowers a community of citizen makers and champions innovative design solutions to create a more sustainable Plymouth.

Throughout the Programme, local citizens, makers, entrepreneurs and businesses are supported to use the city's natural and internal resources to make new products following the circular economy principles and design thinking methodologies. Its activities focus on various themes such as agri-food, conservation and environment, art and creativity, experimental manufacturing, FabCity, urban innovations and more.

The Smart Citizens Programme is part of the iMayflower project and has been supported by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who fund the Cultural Development Fund, which is administered by Arts Council England. iMayflower is led by Plymouth City Council and delivered in partnership with Creative England, Crowdfunder, Destination Plymouth, Plymouth College of Art, the Real Ideas Organisation and University of Plymouth.

About Plymouth College of Art

Plymouth College of Art is a specialist independent Higher Education Institution (HEI) run by artists and designers for artists and designers. Founded in 1856, the College, a Founding Associate of Tate Exchange, offers a range of Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Pre-Degree study across Art, Design and Digital Media – combining over 160 years of history with up-to-the-minute thinking and cutting-edge facilities. Our two city centre campuses are home to MIRROR and Fab Lab Plymouth and we offer a range of short courses, masterclasses, and a programme of Young Arts activities including the College’s decades-old Saturday Arts Club and strong affiliation with the National Saturday Club.

More than 2,000 students study at our campuses in the heart of Plymouth. Expert tutors share their expertise, while encouraging students to develop their own creative strengths. We continue to invest heavily in specialist resources and facilities – for digital media and technology, as well as fine art and handcrafted traditions. Our college has strong links with the creative industries and wider community. So our students have the opportunity to connect with a range of artists and potential employers from day one.


Fab City hubs open their doors to celebrate sustainability and collaboration 

20th Sept 2021: Co-hosted by Plymouth College of Art’s Smart Citizens Programme and the University of Plymouth’s Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Laboratories, the Fab City Plymouth Open Day will see 12 local projects and organisations offer a range of free drop-in activities, demonstrations, business support and tours.

Fab City hubs across Plymouth will be opening their doors to celebrate sustainability and collaboration in a day of free events on Wednesday 22 September. 

From beekeeping and sustainable food production to digital manufacturing techniques, the Open Day will explore how Plymouth can become a more sustainable city through innovation and collaboration, following the Fab City principles. 

Fab Lab Plymouth_Image Credit_Fab Lab Plymouth

Fab Lab Plymouth, one of the Fab City hubs, will be offering a tour and hands-on 3D scanning and laser cutting activities as part of the Open Day, as well as signposting business support

 

Plymouth is the first Fab City in the UK, in 2019 joining the global Fab City network of 38 cities committed to producing nearly everything they consume by 2054. Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth City Council, the University of Plymouth and Real Ideas worked jointly on the citywide commitment in 2019 to becoming the UK’s first Fab City. Originally growing out of the Fab Lab rapid prototyping movement, the Fab City manifesto covers everything from farming and manufacturing to making and culture, asking how we can make the best use of the resources on our doorstep and fully realise the social, economic and environmental benefits of a more circular economy.

 

Through the Fab City initiative, cities are challenged to enable an urban transition towards locally productive and globally connected cities. By embracing strategies in circular economy and digital social innovation, Fab Cities foster collaboration between a global network of cities and territories to meet the planetary challenges presented by climate change and social inequalities. 

 

Pollenize_Genesis Apiary_Image Credit_Pollenize

Fab City hub, Pollenize CIC, will be at Central Park to discuss how they are using community, science and the latest technology to fight against pollinator decline at the Open Day

 

Plymouth is well placed to meet the Fab City challenge, with a wealth of projects, organisations and people committed to re-localising production, supporting local skills development, protecting the environment and championing advanced technologies to transform our city. These local projects will be taking part in the Fab City Plymouth Open Day on 22 September to showcase their work and their future plans, celebrating how together we can make Plymouth a Fab City. 

 

Fab City hubs across Plymouth include: Fab Lab Plymouth, Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Laboratories, Sustainability Hub, Precious Plastic Plymouth, Green Minds Living Lab, Pollenize CIC, The Plot, Plymouth Scrapstore CIC, Bikespace CIC, Food Plymouth, Ocean Studios, and Market Hall.

 

Sustainability Hub_Image Credit_Sustainable Earth Institute_University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth’s Sustainability Hub, will be offering information about funding ad internship opportunities as well as the chance to see artwork and the latest low carbon solutions at the Open Day

 

Learn more about the Fab City Plymouth Open Day and plan your visit here. This is a free drop-in event, so no booking is required.

 

Sign up here to the next Fab City Forum on 22 October 2021, and learn more about Fab City Plymouth here.

 

This activity is part of the iMayflower project and has been supported by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who fund the Cultural Development Fund, which is administered by Arts Council England.


FabLab Plymouth leads drive to help local people better understand our environment  

15th Sept 2021: As part of the Smart Citizens Programme at Plymouth College of Art (@plymouthart), people across Plymouth are installing environmental sensors to better understand to better understand and seek solutions to local environmental issues

People from across the city of Plymouth have begun to install environmental sensors, known as Smart Citizen Kits, in their homes and businesses, to better understand their local environment as part of Plymouth College of Art’s Smart Citizens Programme. Assembled and coded by local participants using Arduino and Processing during a six-week training course led by the Smart Citizens Programme in Fab Lab Plymouth, these sensors capture environmental data such as air quality, noise pollution, humidity levels, CO2 levels and more. Six Smart Citizen Kits have now been installed in the homes and gardens of participants around the city, with a further eight soon to be added following another round of training later this month, creating a growing network of environmental sensors.

Although sharing the same name as the Plymouth-based Smart Citizens Programme, the Smart Citizen Kit is an open source project developed by Fab Lab Barcelona. The project builds on open source technologies such as Arduino to enable individuals and communities from around the world to gather information about their environment and make it available to the public via the Smart Citizen platform. Sharing their data on this international platform, the Plymouth-based Smart Citizen Kits empower the local community to better understand and seek solutions to environmental issues within both a local and global context. 

Local participant Tim Wornell, who works for the social housing provider Plymouth Community Homes, joined the free six-week training course at Plymouth College of Art. Tim said “The Smart Citizens’ training was really varied, combining elements including 3D printing, coding, electronics, environmental awareness; something to inspire everyone!

“In particular I enjoyed learning how to fetch sensor data from an Application Programming Interface (API) and construct code to make a visual dashboard for interpreting the data. I also enjoyed learning about the environmental conditions and pollutants that the Smart Citizen Kits record.

“My experience of this training has helped me in a recent job application and interview, and I have used the skills I have developed since the course as part of an application to a funded Open University course.

“Since installing the sensor in my home I have regularly checked the data, looking for trends and patterns. Being able to compare with kits located all over the world gives an insight into how much local conditions can vary. For instance, I have compared the noise readings from the kit in my back garden to those from a kit in London - let's just say I am glad I don't live in London!

“It feels rewarding to contribute to a project as part of a group. I feel proud to support the Smart Citizen initiatives, especially because they are raising people's interest in, and awareness of, their environment, and the impact of human activity on their environment.”

Local participant Tim Wornell with his Smart Citizen Kit (Photo credit - Ray Goodwin)

Local participant Tim Wornell with his Smart Citizen Kit (Photo credit - Ray Goodwin)

Work is currently ongoing to collate the local Smart Citizen Kit data with existing environmental data generated by other Plymouth organisations, such as the University of Plymouth, The Data Place and the Plymouth City Council-led Green Minds project, to explore how it can be used to empower local people and support decision-making processes for planning across the city.

Locally Made, Globally Connected

The creation of these sensors marks the Smart Citizens Programme’s ongoing commitment to the Fab City initiative, which champions cities to make locally following circular economy principles, whilst encouraging global knowledge sharing between cities. 

Celebrating Plymouth as the first Fab City in the UK, the Smart Citizens Programme will be hosting a Fab City Plymouth Open Day on Wednesday 22 September, from 12pm to 6pm. This free drop-in event will see 13 Fab City hubs across the city opening their doors with a range of hands-on activities, demonstrations, business support and tours. From beekeeping and sustainable food production to digital manufacturing techniques, the Open Day celebrates how people across Plymouth are working towards creating a more sustainable and collaborative city, following the Fab City principles. Learn more about the Fab City Plymouth Open Day here.

Plymouth’s Innovative Spirit

Showcasing Plymouth’s innovative spirit, the Smart Citizens Programme added their own unique additions to the international Smart Citizen Kit. A waterproof case for the sensor was custom-designed by the Fab Lab Plymouth team and 3D printed, allowing it to be located outside in all weathers and customised by local participants. The waterproof case model will also be shared as an open source design, accessible to people around the world. 

Local electronics expert Lee Nutbean, who led the six-week training, also developed a custom-coded online platform representing the local environment (such as sky, sun, clouds, rain, hills) with participants specifically for the Plymouth-based sensors. Through this platform, created using the open source software Processing, data such as light, humidity and pollution levels are collated and visualised within an illustrated, easily accessible and interactive dashboard to generate a real-time emulation of source locations. This custom and creative online platform will be showcased at the Fulldome UK festival, taking place from 8-10 October 2021 at the new Devonport Market Hall state-of-the-art immersive dome.

Local maker, Gary Hannaford, is a keen supporter of the Smart Citizens Programme. Creating his own sensor in the six-week Smart Citizen Kit course, Gary said,

“I followed my father into toolmaking but left the trade due to medical problems. It is a trade I miss deeply and probably what drives me towards being a maker. The Smart Citizens Programme has been a godsend for me. It has fueled my desire to make and given me the tools to do so.”

“The Smart Citizen Kit training has been great; I am inspired to delve into this world a little deeper now I understand it better. I loved assembling the environmental sensor and enjoyed being involved with Lee’s artwork that uses its data. This boosted my Arduino knowledge, which before the Smart Citizens Programme was limited to making a GPS Speedo to someone else’s design.”

“Having a Smart Citizen sensor at my home that publishes data for others to use is brilliant. I check the outputs frequently to monitor what’s happening around me and I’m even considering expanding the station and adding a weather monitoring system to run alongside the environmental monitor.”

(Left) Local participant Gary Hannaford and his Smart Citizen Kit (Photo credit - Ray Goodwin)Gary Hannaford demonstrate data

 

(Top image) Gary Hannaford demonstrates how data from his sensor is shared on the international Smart Citizen online platform (Bottom image) Local participant Gary Hannaford and his Smart Citizen Kit (Photo credits - Ray Goodwin)

Opening up the world of electronics and coding

The Smart Citizens Programme’s six-week training not only provided an opportunity to develop electronics and coding skills but supported participants to understand how these skills could be combined with digital fabrication to create smart objects with real-world impacts, such as environmental monitoring. 

Local participant, Noa Bailey who took part in the Smart Citizens Programme’s six-week training

Local participant, Noa Bailey who took part in the Smart Citizens Programme’s six-week training

Through the Smart Citizens’ training Noa Bailey, aged 12, took his first steps into the world of electronics and coding. Noa said “I really enjoyed the course and learnt so much, including coding and processing script, electronics and 3D printing.  

“It was amazing to produce something that can monitor the environment around it and create a digital landscape that shows this. I can’t wait to do the next Smart Citizens course and develop my skills in coding and electronics.”

Liz Bailey, Noa’s mum also added “He is so proud of the kit he has made and is looking forward to taking environmental recordings and viewing them digitally. This is a wonderful opportunity and we feel so fortunate to have the Smart Citizens Programme’s amazing facility on our doorstep.”

Another local participant Gareth Evans found his passion for programming renewed through the Smart Citizens’ training. Gareth, a Qualified Civil Engineer, said, “I would definitely recommend this course. Plymouth College of Art’s Smart Citizens Programme appears to be the only place locally offering technology focused training of this type and the variety of courses and workshops available for free offer something for all ages and abilities.” 

“The six-week training rekindled my interest in programming - I have a 30-year-old A-level in Computing! It has developed my knowledge of coding and has pushed me to try new things. I’ve been inspired to develop a Raspberry PI touchscreen dashboard showing information from my sensors.”

“As an engineer, who relies on data to make decisions, I understand how useful it is to gather genuine data about the local environment. I can see many uses for these Kits, including potentially a day where they could be installed close to construction projects to monitor the impact of the project on local residents. I’m a big believer in the benefits of ‘big data’ so it has been great to be able to contribute towards this initiative.”

Smart Citizen Kit sensor created by Gareth Evans (Photo credit - Gareth Evans)

Smart Citizen Kit sensor created by Gareth Evans (Photo credit - Gareth Evans)

View data captured by kits around the world on the Smart Citizen platform. 

This activity is part of the iMayflower project and has been supported by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who fund the Cultural Development Fund, which is administered by Arts Council England.

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