By Mitchell Carlyle


Uhhh… what is a “Fablab”?


Does the term “Fablab” ring a bell? If not then don’t worry! Everything you need to know about this, and the arrival of the Gribblehirst Community Hub’s “Pocket Lab” will be explained in this article. Firstly, in brief terms, a Fablab is a design and fabrication space of sorts where people of many talents, skills and backgrounds can come together and bring to life exciting concepts and projects either together or individually. The utility of these projects range from “just for fun” ideas such as a backpack that records screams to later be unleashed when convenient (yes that was made by someone, I am not lying) to more (for lack of a better word) useful designs that can greatly impact the wider world such as a fully featured carbon neutral house that generates more energy than it consumes (yes, this was also made, by some extremely talented people).


After an afternoon of talking to one of the Pocket Lab members, Baptiste Natali, I learned that there are some surprisingly useful projects we can expect to see from the space in the future. Before I delve into that, let’s first explore why such a space has been created and how the Gribblehirst Community Hub has enabled the formation of the space.


Inspiration for the Auckland Pocket Lab and where it came from:


Sick of buying food at supermarket, and without time to garden, Baptiste was looking for ways to automate his gardening process. After coming across an open-source project called “farmbot” and without resources to build the device with, Baptiste sought out help from the existing Fablab in Wellington and made contact with the helpful folk there. Next thing he knew, he had been sent to a conference in Shenzhen, to discover firstly, what a Fab Lab was, what a Fab Lab did and how it can enable more people like him to see their fabrication goals become a reality. Therefore, when the bowling greens opened up, Baptiste saw the perfect opportunity to start Fablab, meeting people with similar interests in establishing a Fablab for Auckland (at the time, none existed in the region).


Pocket Lab can and will change the community in some way, shape or form:


Members of either the Hub or Pocket Lab are encouraged to make their design goals fabricate into reality; thanks to the useful tools and resources that have been donated generously by many groups such as Hackland and  Fabcity Aotearoa, as well as businesses such as Bunnings Ltd and Rollercoaster Ltd ." The aim of having the Pocket Lab open to many people is to help them improve their own lives through the fabrications of useful designs, as well as having members work together on larger projects that will have an impact on the community.


One such large project that is still in early development is a waste minimisation system. The project involves the use of larvae/worms to eat food scraps and then use the worms as food for fish. The fish will produce ammonium which gets converted into nitrogen which then becomes extremely useful fertiliser in the form of fish pee and poo. This fertiliser will be fed back into the plants growing in the nearby Grow Space thus completing the cycle.


Pocket Lab and it’s vision for the future:


The Pocket Lab has a few guiding visions that it would like to see through in the long-run.

They are as follows:

Main goal: Facilitate and encourage the use of an experimentation lab for anyone with big ideas that can impact the world

Provide a valuable prototyping space for real life use and testing

Create a growing space with the ability to organise food solutions for the future

Creation of a collaboration space which can change structures of businesses, enterprise and community


Helping hands:


The amazing Pocket Lab hasn’t come this far without some help. The most obvious group in need of acknowledgement is the Gribblehirst Community Hub. The Hub has provided the physical space for the Lab which is highly valuable due to its placement inside the Gribblehirst park which reinforces the coexistence of nature and man-made designs; a fundamental value of the Fablab vision.


What now!?


Ok so now that you’re excited and eager to design (or find a design) and fabricate your very own masterpiece why not come down and see for yourself the magic that is happening. After all, people always say that you’ll regret that which you don’t do more than that which you do actually do!


The next page contains more information on the Pocket Lab taken from the Pocket Lab website found here