Spotlight on MAKLAB and INCH Architecture & Design

Posted: 22 April 2014, in Member Spotlight

In the spotlight for two weeks (7 April – 20 April 2014) is Bruce Newlands and MAKLAB, a social enterprise based in Glasgow that opens up “making” (personal manufacturing and digital prototyping) to anyone. Get in touch with Bruce Newlands on 0141 276 5373 | | 

What’s your social and/or environmental mission? Our core aim with MAKLAB is to ensure that “making” (personal manufacturing and digital prototyping) is accessible to anyone. We believe that the act of making can empower people, it builds confidence, helps solve problems, encourages collaboration and creates opportunities for self employment & teaching others, passing on knowledge. We try to adhere to the ideas of a circular economy, whereby ‘consumers’ are empowered as ‘users’ who can discern the quality of design, ethics & manufacturing processes of products. Making informed decisions from a position of direct knowledge & understanding helps people make better decisions.

How do you do it? Over the past two years, we’ve offered low cost access to a wide variety of tools and skills training workshops to people from 11 – 80 years old. Our space allows people to work on their projects, whether that be a Christmas card for a neighbour or a boathouse for their island community. Projects range from furniture making to electronic sensors, signage for a start-up business to 3D printed parts for a prototype invention.

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? Being an entrepreneur has always been in my bones, from my families fishing background in north east Scotland through to me setting up my own company at 30. MAKLAB allows me to give a lot of what I have learned back to others, hopefully inspiring them to have the confidence that I was gifted by others.

What are your current projects? We’ve recently assisted Tog Studio pre-fabricate a community owned boat shed destined for Tiree and offered our first pilot ‘build your own wind turbine’ course. We’re expanding the range and scope of skills & learning opportunities that we offer to young people.

What exciting things do you have coming up? MAKLAB is in a stage of expansion at the moment with exciting plans for three different spaces in Glasgow offering co-working, classrooms, micro manufacture & market trading. We have also recently helped launch a space in Aberdeen with plans for an open network of MAKLABs in Wick, Inverness, Buckie, Dundee, Edinburgh & London. Each space will be a collaborative partnership with local stakeholders from local authorities, schools, communities and business networks.

Who do you want to work with more? We have a deep respect for the established social enterprises in Glasgow that approach making from a similar perspective. We have recently co-founded ‘The Glasgow Wood Co-operative’ with The GalGael Trust, The Coach House Trust, Glasgow Wood Recycling & Tog Studio. We are also developing partnerships with our friends at Gorbals Recycling, we share their passion for bicycles. We hope to work with a range of youth groups seriously interested in training opportunities in digital manufacturing over the coming months.

What’s your biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge at the moment is expanding sustainably and maintaining the quality of what we offer. There are many temptations / requests from others to expand quickly and take on projects but we try to be measured and ensure long term sustainability.

What top tip would you give to other social enterprises? Speak to others, find out how they do things, never be afraid to just ask.

 In the spotlight for two weeks (21 April – 4 May 2014)  is Lesley Palmer and INCH Architecture & Design, a social enterprise Architecture, Design and Research practice based in Glasgow. Get in touch with INCH on / 0141 552 0661.

What’s your social and/or environmental mission? INCH was established to assist & support third sector organisations, charities, communities and individuals to further their ideas and ambitions in realising capital projects; to work collaboratively with others to initiate & actively develop projects that we believe will have a positive and lasting effect on the community; to reinvest our profit to implement research led projects to better understand and influence the unique issues surrounding the built environment and; to utilise our teaching experience to encourage young people from varied backgrounds into further education through the support and professional framework afforded in the architecture studio.

How do you do it? INCH commit to the practice of responsible architecture and design. Underpinning all our projects is our social intent and objectives, these define the company and our long-term aspirations. We work closely with our clients to support them in their capital build projects, be that an initial feasibility study, a research project or the design and construction of a building. Our Clients range from housing associations, charities, community groups, individuals and the private sector.

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? We want to give something back – to maximise the improvement and understanding of human wellbeing in our built environment and to encourage others to appreciate the importance our constructed spaces have on our daily lives.

What are your current projects? We are currently working on a variety of projects which include: several multi-disciplinary research projects into the future of housing for the elderly; the refurbishment of a ‘B’ listed warehouse for a young arts enterprise in Glasgow; an exhibition design for the RCAHMS; the refurbishment & modernisation of several sheltered housing developments throughout Scotland; and we are currently on site with the remodelling of 40 housing units in Angus to suit Lifetime Holmes Principles for adults with learning disabilities.

What exciting things do you have coming up? We were recently awarded the preferred Architect for a new-build sports & resource centre in Edinburgh, which we are hoping to begin work on in the near future.
Who do you want to work with more? Organisations and individuals with the curiosity & desire to investigate, improve and develop the built environment for the betterment of their organisation and those around them.

What’s your biggest challenge? Demystifying the architecture profession for the benefit of others.

What top tip would you give to other social enterprises? Never underestimate the positive impact a carefully considered, well-designed space can have on you and those around you.