Craneworks Initiative

Last night I went to a presentation on the Craneworks proposal.  This initiative will see the Stothert & Pitt factory buildings in Bath turned into a multi-disciplinary make-space for the creative industries.  Craneworks will be a centre of invention in a city that is proud of its design history.

The evening began with a key note speech from Jessi Baker – an innovative maker, PhD researcher and the founder of Provenance.  She talked about the new maker movement, the imminent technological industrial revolution and a cross pollination between art, design, engineering and science.

For Bath to be as instrumental in this industrial revolution as they were in the last, we need to be creating forward thinking, pioneering products.  To support the new breed of maker we need to encourage curiosity and innovation with spaces that allow a new form of cross-discipline education.  To make better products we need better makers.

Jessi is also very passionate about the lifecycle of a product.  Every product has a story, and with the components of every product being either grown or mined, this means materials are already, or will become, a scarce resource.  When we create new products now, makers are more aware of the life time of the product, the supply chain and its impact, where the materials came from, and consideration is give to the future and disposal of the product.

The company Provenance was founded by Jessi to promote and share the stories of makers and their products.

“Share more about the things you make.  Know more about the things you buy.”
Jessi Baker

Jessi was an engaging and charismatic speaker with an obvious knowledge and passion for the subject.  You can view a TedxYouth@Bath talk by Jessi from 2012 below.

The rest of the evening was dedicated to the nuts and bolts of the Craneworks project.  We now fully understood why it was needed, we just needed to know how it was going to happen.

Bristol and Bath combined have the highest tech concentration outside of London (McKinsey) and is also one of the top ten creative clusters in the UK (NESTA), so is well placed to foster and develop new makers.

The new facility would have dedicated spaces for working, showing, making, creating art, exhibiting and eating, appealing to students, hobbyists and entrepreneurs alike.  The income from the work space would provide a regular income to allow the other spaces to operate.

There is a real drive to move from STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths), and this type of make-space will have engineers, design and artists from all disciplines working side by side.

It’s envisaged the space would be operational in 2017, all going to plan. There were over 150 people in the room and every one of them seemed enthusiastic and supportive of this inspirational and aspirational project, as was I.  Now, I’m looking forward to heading down to experiment…

Image credit: Cinematic Media /


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