The FADA FabLab, an initiative of the Department of Architecture (DoA) and the Graduate School of Architecture (GSA) with financial support from the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, has exceeded all expectations since it opened its doors in January 2021. It has attracted junior students to use the lab for the fabrication of their design projects, senior students for experimental design fabrication, students who wanted to assist in the lab in exchange for technical training, and has collaborated with external research partners, says Denver Hendricks, Development Coordinator. The FabLab, an interdisciplinary digital design fabrication and research facility used for the production of student academic projects and staff research, was created to address the emerging technological role in inter- and transdisciplinary design education, practise and research in art and design. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) upon us, innovation is becoming increasingly important to not only develop an innovative culture but also to equip art and design students with new digital skills. The FabLab concept originated with Prof Neil Gershenfeld at MIT in 2001. The objective was to have an accessible and practical space to make things. MIT’s motto – “hand and mind” – reflects the educational ideals of MIT’s founders who were promoting education for practical application,
THE FADA FABLAB WAS CREATED TO ADDRESS THE EMERGING TECHNOLOGICAL ROLE IN INTER- AND TRANSDISCIPLINARY DESIGN EDUCATION, PRACTICE AND RESEARCH IN ART AND DESIGN AND STRONGLY ALIGNS WITH THE UNIVERSITY’S FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION (4IR) AGENDA. IT RECEIVED AN OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE RESPONSE AND HAS EXCEEDED ALL EXPECTATIONS SINCE IT OPENED ITS DOORS IN JANUARY 2021.
or put differently, making and thinking.
“To name an example, we have a new collaborative transdisciplinary programme called Advanced Diploma, which develops advanced design skills with a special focus on technology where they are largely based in the FabLab. Students who carry out projects in the FabLab also begin to get to know each other from other programmes and their work. This kind of learning from other disciplines is very important because it expands their design frame of reference and methodology. In the future, the lab will implement transdisciplinary short learning courses and play a strong digital role in supporting all art and design programmes,” explains Denver. As a facility used to produce student academic projects and staff research, the lab has a basic function to allow students to produce high quality academic projects, he says. “It is a facility that increases the quality of the
“We have been sold on the idea that everyone needs to be only a thinker but this is not true, we need thinkers and makers, especially in third-world countries where we need to solve real problems. Some of the highest- ranking institutions are based on this model, but in South Africa it seems to be confused with only being a basic-skill blue-collar worker (i.e. to ‘make’). “We need to create a culture of innovators. With this digital era, we can create new areas of knowledge which could not have been achieved before,” says Denver. As a digital fabrication and research facility, the FabLab focuses on cross-pollination and collaboration through multiple disciplines, namely fashion, jewellery, industrial design, visual arts, multimedia, graphic design and architecture.
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