C-base – A spaceship inside Berlin

They say it’s a space station that crashed in Berlin two million years ago. Well I can’t prove them wrong!

You wouldn’t imagine that from the outside. Just a simple door in the street. But once you’ve crossed it, you’re inside a metal universe full of digital screens and beeping and blinking walls.

Photo by Henry Bergius

 

It’s the oldest hackerspace in Europe, and probably also in the world, more than 18 years old! It has more than 500 members, and they hack almost anything, from software to hardware, they make robots, 3D printing, wifi devices, and so many other stuffs.

Photo by MeTaVoLuT1oN and C-base

They meet there almost every evening, and they have a drink, play games, and talk. There are many events going on, mostly on geeky subjects.

It’s like a parallel universe that you do not enter so easily: when a non member enters the space, an ‘Alien alarm’ rings. So I don’t know what they talk about when they’re between members, and you won’t know unless you become a member!

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Disco Soup in Madrid

One third of all food produced worldwide ends up in the garbage. Bad processes, spoiling… The reasons are numerous. But the worse is probably all that is thrown away although still edible, because it is not in the standard. But what can you do about it…1381996_643637712323675_1487199528_n

Well some people do something. I had a great disco soup experience in Madrid. They just go ask retailers to get their rejected food. Vegetables, bred, cereals, you name it. Then they gather with as many people as they can, they turn on the music, and everyone gets to peel, cut and mix everything. That makes a big good meal for everyone to eat!

There are plenty of disco soups organized around the globe, maybe one next to you! And if not, well, just fill your trunk of vegetables, and just make one.

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Easy Code in Madrid

Utopis US is a great coworking space in Madrid. There are lots of very cool projects and very interesting people. In the basement of space number 2, you can find one of them, Easy Code. Easy Code is a development company that makes code for the web, exploring new technologies to provide new usages.

IMG_0061One of their projects is a very nice try to use Kinect, the microsoft 3d gaming device, to offer stores a new way to interact with their customers. Their idea is to set up a screen in the store front window, and a Kinect to detect people moves. So once someone wants to interact with the screen, he’ll just have to move his arms or hands to get more information from that screen.IMG_0060

I had a chance to try their system. Although you can tell it is still in development, and that they need to interact more with stores to precisely define the use they can make of it, you can imagine very quickly the potential this system could have if you were in front of a store that might interest you. You don’t need to pass the door, or ask anything. You just pass by, you get the information you need, and you’re done! And who knows, maybe you will be able to order that pair of pants you specifically want and you’ll be able to try next week inside the store.

There are probably lots of new interactions that could arise from this kind of systems, exploring this new world between traditional and web stores. A lot of new possibilities come to life these days, and it’s passionating to see them growing right there, like in Madrid.

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3d printing at the Makers of Barcelona

It’s a basement below a street in the center of Barcelona. The space is called Makers of Barcelona, and the ground floor is a coworking space used by freelancers of all kinds you could imagine. But the basement looks like a workshop of a new kind, and is dedicated to the so-called makers.

IMG_20130927_193359This space is full of 3d printers, full or in parts, and all kind of weird objects made with them. A 3d printer is a simple machinery controlled by computer software that assembles materials in a defined shape. These machines can print any object you can imagine, either for an decorative purpose, to get a cheap prototype of some device you have in mind, or just useful pieces for your daily life. This field is very young, but evolving very quickly, and is full of promises for the future.

Amongst all these innovative initiatives, I met David down in the basement of the MOB. David is an Australian who has lived in Barcelona for several years. He uses 3d printers, and works on improving them with a new sliding system for the printing heads. This could result in 3d printer structures 5 to 10 times cheaper to make than the existing ones. He’s done a good job prototyping, and is starting a crowdfunding campaign to end up with a finished product.

IMG_20130927_193353This innovation could result in much more affordable 3d printers, and is part of wide movement of democratization of these devices. Imagine that you had close to you such a printer, and that you could just download any object you need in the materials you want, and just print it. Your consumer life would probably be much different. Well, we might be closer to that picture that you might think.

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Barcelona Fab Lab

A fab lab is an open collaborative space where you can find any kind a fabrication tool, from the milling machine to the 3d printer, all sorts of wood processing tools, and even industrial machinery, free-to-use. Barcelona has one big fab lab that I happened to visit.

IMG_20130927_122112The first thing that strikes you when entering the lab is its openness. Anyone is welcome to come and use the tools. In fact, you encounter all kinds of people there: from the entrepreneur willing to quickly make a prototype to the artist working on a new concept, and including many hackers trying new ideas. And all these people help each other, eventually sharing ideas and comments. The beauty of it is that all these different people wouldn’t necessarily meet without this space, and this diversity gives such a strong picture of creativity.

 

 

 

Walking in the different rooms, you’ll find the IMG_20130927_122045result of this creativity: artistic sculptures, proofs of some concept, electronic devices, architectural models… The large green panel you see (I know, sorry for the bad quality pictures…) on the wall of the first picture is a miniature model of the city of Barcelona.

The fab lab is getting its own resources by selling models and prototypes to companies. It is a very good example of how collaboration can become a sustainable model and offer a credible alternative to corporations as we know them today.

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Barcelona – A Hangar full of artists

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Yes, these are electronic components. And they’re not to be used by the typical kind of geek you would expect. They are used by a bunch of artists to create their own sound synthesizers.

I think art is more interesting when it is based on some technique. Creation makes more sense when we actually make something.

Manu is an artist in Barcelona. He works in an artist place called the Hangar. There, dozens of artists of all kinds have their own space where they can dedicate to their art. Every Thursday they open their doors to the public, and organize workshops or other kinds of events.

The first floor is dedicated to technical artists like Manu. For his synthetizer, he designs the whole electronic circuit, buys the components and integrates everything to get the sounds he wishes. It is a strange activity where art meets open design. That makes the Hangar a place full of passion, and this is part of what makes Barcelona so creative.

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