Fabship is a project of the PARADIGM LABS coop. It is an off-grid FabLab, powered by renewable energy and Earthship-inspired design and systems. Fabships enable communities to build resilience and grow autonomy. By combining low-tech and digital fabrication technologies, Fabships foster innovation and low-cost alternatives to the growth-obsessed development model. In their parallel ways, FabLabs and Earthships have been challenging the limits of technology and sharing their learning openly; empowering citizens to become more ecologically conscious and technologically savvy. Fabships unite both movements under one roof; exploring the reach and scope of digital manufacturing within a radically sustainable and community-driven model.
Two movements unite
FabLabs are digital workshops for innovation and invention, providing stimulus for local entrepreneurship thanks to a suite of rapid prototyping machines, tools and software that allow people to design, invent and develop (almost) anything. They are also the educational outreach of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), led by Professor Neil Gershenfeld, an extension of its research into digital fabrication and computation. FabLabs have grown to become influential platforms for learning, invention and collaboration. To be a FabLab means connecting to a global community of learners, educators, makers and innovators; an international knowledge network that spans 30 countries and 24 time zones. Because all FabLabs share common tools and processes, the program is a globally distributed platform for digital fabrication and open source technology. They are also pushing for a more sustainable model of manufacturing, democratising productive power towards a more circular and responsible economic model.
For the last 50 years Earthship Biotecture, lead by Architect Michael Reynolds, has been a pioneer in eco-construction, building off-grid homes with natural and recycled materials. Their projects include disaster relief and humanitarian builds around the world. Today Earthships are tried and tested models for autonomous and sustainable living. They address six basic human needs: comfortable shelter, renewable energy (solar/wind), sewage treatment, using recycled materials, water harvesting, and food production. These off the grid homes have been built in many extreme and diverse climates. Earthships have evolved through many models, and as a result their designs and systems have gradually become more practical, affordable and efficient. Earthships provide energy-independent living systems that not only cover all the comforts of a conventional home, but also create a positive and regenerative environmental footprint.
A versatile off-grid micro factory
Fabships are off-grid workshops that empower communities to grow their own productive power through energy efficient fabrication. As inter-dependent and creative fabrication spaces, Fabships provide an alternative to the “take, make and dispose” mass-production mindset that is decimating our planet. By synergising the power of nature, technology and community, these off-grid maker spaces allow us to survive as well as thrive, building distributed local economies, engaged netizens and resilient communities. Fabships are not about technology as an end in itself. The aim is to build, repurpose and recycle, maximising a community's creative and productive capacity while minimising our carbon footprint. Fabships seek to develop a more intelligent means of production by applying tools to better serve our collective human needs and those of the Earth we all call home. Fabships, off-grid places for off-greed innovation.
The freedom of limits
We gain awerness of co-existing in a fragile ecosystem when the limits of using, consuming, and disposing become tangible on an every day level. Defining these limits we discover the real costs of production, while fully owning the means to explore our creative freedoms. Energy independence sounds wonderful, but with it comes awareness and responsibility. Fabships research the boundaries between self-sufficiency and fabrication. How do we run complex machines using solely renewable energy? Does the natural phenomena dictate what we should be making or guide us to rethink how we can make it? How much energy does it take to make a windmill or replicate a machine? How can the model scale efficiently? These are all questions that Fabships aim to explore, experiment and experience. The idea is not to curtail, but leverage the creative power of off-grid communities through a connected and distributed model of eco-conscious manufacturing.
A virtuous cycle
Building a FabLab in an Earthship is more than a technical challenge, it is the cross-fertilization of communities in the spirit of open-source learning and innovation. Both movements in their parrallel ways have been inspiring people to reclaim creative agency, build more intelligently, and rethink what we produce, how we consume and where we dump our waste.
A first prototype
We have found land to build a first prototype in an off-grid community in the south of France, Lozère. This prototype means to prove and enhance the concept of sustainable self sufficient fablabs, so that it can be replicated in any community that wants to design globally how to build locally the world they dream to leave in with what the Earth and the Sun have to offer.
We offer consultancy on how to build and set-up your off-grid fablab.
We welcome your feedback and your involvement. We are looking for financial support to build and set up the first fabship.
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