Future Factories, Mesters and Makers

img_6327Last week a group of Masters architecture students from Sheffield School of Architecture (SSoA) embarked on a Live Project exploring how makers, architects, and manufacturers can collaborate to rethink their factories and making practices for a future energy landscape and a carbon-constrained future. Working with  factory partners across the city of Sheffield, the students will engage with a number of different makers to ‘hack’ factory sites, think about communal and networked working spaces, plan strategies for reducing energy demand, and make prototypes that consider energy use and making, at the scale of a workshop, factory and the city. A key aspect of this Live Project is to think about how different makers can collaborate in the city of Sheffield, home to the tradition of Little Mesters.

This Live project is working with Made North, a platform for designers and makers in the North of the UK, based at Persistence Works, Sheffield. Made North is interested in establishing a resource that could activate collaboration between the different design disciplines within the city. The Live Project will test how collaborative making might work at a series of factory sites (Gripple Ltd; Mesters Works), leading up to the development of a public event for Sheffield Design Week with Made North. Students will be working with a range of factory tenants, employees and employers throughout the project and also with other architecture students at Sheffield Hallam University  on proposals that involve prototyping, making and designing.  The project is an opportunity to explore working with community and manufacturing partners, a broad range of makers and also with the public during Sheffield Design Week.

The first week involved setting up a base at Live Works, the School of Architecture’s ‘Urban Room’ in Sheffield’s city centre. The group also met Patrick Murphy of Made North at Persistence Works, who runs Sheffield Design Week. This was followed by a visit to Mesters Works, Burton Road. Within a week the group had planned their first prototyping workshop involving tenants at Mesters Works and a studio of Masters students at Sheffield Hallam University.

This Live Project is the third in a sequence related to the Future Works strand of the Stories of Change project on energy and industry, which has sought to reinvigorate the conversation around energy and manufacturing in the English Midlands and South Yorkshire. The first Live Project that Future Works was involved with was ‘One Great Workshop‘ based at Portland Works in Sheffield. The second, ‘Archive and the Machine‘ worked with The Silk Mill, Derby Museums.

Photo: Visiting Mesters Works

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