The Open Workshop Network

The Open Workshop Network

The Open Workshop Network (OWN) is an ongoing research project led by our PhD student, Liz Corbin, into the larger making community of London. Research is being carried out over the course of three years and done in collaboration with the 39+ Makerspaces, Hackspaces, Fab Labs and open workshops that comprise the Network.

This project is operating in a time where increased interest and speculation into the broader “Maker Movement” is taking place. The goal of this project is to extend beyond anecdotal enquiry, developing a research programme that responds to the participating organisations’ needs and producing in-depth analysis that serves as a useful tool for supporting and developing workshops and maker communities. In-depth research is currently being conducted to identify the realities, triumphs and challenges that individuals and workshop collectives face in the day-to-day running of open-access, community-centered spaces for making.   


A key aim of the project is to develop a method of research whereby respondents and participants play a more active role in plotting the course of inquiry. The workshops and individuals participating within the Network collectively steer the direction of the project and hold co-ownership over the data that is produced. By adhering to this adaptable and responsive methodological approach, the project hopes to bridge the gap between academic research and the communities and individuals that are the focus of study.

The project is currently focused on helping to support an informal member-run cooperative that exists to support and celebrate the diverse expertise, practices and interests of London’s highly diverse maker community. The organisation is one that encourages the sharing of information, skills and resources between individual spaces towards the mutual benefit and support of the wider maker community. 


An initial outcome of the research is a digital platform that maps the open workshops in London.  From printmaking to welding, 3D scanning to plaster casting, the OWN digital platform provides a place for people to learn about and connect with the many London-based organisations that are dedicating themselves to providing publicly accessible means for making.


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