Daring to enter a lab is not always easy. Most of them regularly organise social events open to the public in order to convince new users to have a look. We visited four of them located in Brussels and met regular (or not that much) users.
Brussels, correspondence (text, sound and images)
Hackerspace Brussels, faithful to the hacker tradition
Every Tuesday, the Hackerspace Brussels (HSBXL) opens its doors during “Techtue”. After we ring the bell, the door of the first Brussel’s hackerspace (2009) automaticaly opens and a robotic voice welcomes us. Upstairs, a dozen of people around 30 years old chat in small groups, in the middle of a technological shamble: electronic items, tools, screens, chips and a virtual reality headset recover the tables and fill the closets. Developers, hackers and geeks talk about home automation, write code together, work on a proximity sensor installed in the snail mailbox, sending email when a letter comes.
Between two sips of Club Mate, Rodskin, a webdeveloper from Marseille tells us: “I love informatics since i’m a child.” After studying electronics and informatics, he discovered the DiY movement through the punk sphere. His work essentially focuses on home automation: “I built a home automation system in my flat because I’m a rather lazy person” he laughs. “A Raspberry Pi wakes me up every morning, turns the lights on, starts the coffee machine, puts some music, starts the heating system… this allows me to sleep 30 min more every morning.”
Techtue, every Tuesday evening in the HSBXL
UrLab, the hackerspace in the service of students
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) has its hackerspace, managed by students and opened to everyone. Wednesday’s social event is called “Techwednesday”. Those meetings mostly gather students who usually start by a talk about the space’s life and management. Around a table stuffed by Club Maté and beers, a dozen of people chat, write code, and share knowledge about personal or collective projects..
It’s a place where informatics or polytechnic students can help each other to achieve academic projects and put their knowledge into practice. It’s also an open space where passionate people can teach and learn, through regular workshops and conferences.
“We delibaretely chose not to have statutes, we’re not even a real association. We just decided to adopt a code of conduct in 10 points, mostly based on respect and openness, which works pretty fine.”
C4, one of the first members
“UrLab has been a huge support for my studies.”
“For now, I’ve organised two conferences and one workshop” “I’m a really curious person, and through the hackerspace, we discover many many things, out of the pure academic system, and that’s what interests me the most.”
Techwednesday, every Wednesday evening at UrLab.be
Foam, futurology of the present
Foam is a cross-disciplinary labs network established in Europe (Amsterdam, Stockholm, Falmouth and Brussels). Foam doesn’t really fit in a box, as this network gathers widely diverse profiles, experimenting and sharing around arts, science, technology and nature. Intricate maps fill the board, scenarios extrapolate the present, trying to explore the field of possibilities and imagining the future.
On Friday evenings, everybody is welcome for the apero. That evening, Michka, a French guy who just finished one year residency program in the lab, extended the apero with a presentation of his itinerary. He describes Foam as a “cross-disciplinary research lab, settled down in cultural sector, that goes way further than this, in that it’s composed by people with artistic, scientific, entrepreneur and intermediary background, who are interested in fields going from space to cooking, a split we couldn’t imagine in another structure.”
Friday’s Foam apero
OpenFab: DiY & Booze
OpenFab is a fablab that opened in it’s founder’s garage in 2011. Back in that time, a few people gathered weekly, sharing knowledge and techniques about prototyping and 3D printing, along with a few beers. Little by little, the garage was replaced by a genuine lab in Brussels suburbs and those informal gatherings became proper workshops. Every Friday, the public is welcome for a social event called “Bricole & picole” (DiY & booze). As we attended various time to this event, we know it’s quite popular. Unfortunately, due to a weak Facebook communication around the event, the public was missing that Friday.
OpenFab: DiY & booze every Friday evening