‘Nod Makerspace’ is a creative workspace developed in a former industrial cotton factory placed on the edge of Dâmbovița River in Bucharest. What used to be the ghost space of a former 1970 communist factory turned into the place of the future maker. At the smaller scale the factory accommodates the young maker generation, at the larger scale, this place is a node in an emerging network of creative industries in the city of Bucharest. Nod Makerspace caught the attention of the European Commission as demonstrating good practice and it is also one of the 15 initiatives nominated for ‘Funding the cooperative city’, a project that investigates experimental economic models driven by community groups. This interview addresses three members of the initiative: a founder (Tamina Lolev), a maker (Alexandru Radu) and an urban designer (Cristina Zlota). The energy of the young designers and co-founders of Nod, the enthusiasm of the new maker, and the perspective of the city designer, explain how this approach is meant to energize and positively contribute to city making in Bucharest. (the Nod) On how to make a Nod (by Tamina Lolev) What is the story of Nod Makerspace? Nod makerspace is the answer we found to an existing need in our multidisciplinary group: the need for space and tools to build projects together. That is why Nod is a “working playground” that provides access to a wide palette of tools and equipment for digital fabrication and fast prototyping. Also, Nod ('knot' in Romanian) means a place where people and projects meet and tightly bind together.
We occupy the 2nd floor (700sqm) of the main building, in the former industrial site of the Cotton Factory, in central Bucharest. The space layout is made of: 350sqm open-space for co-working area and 10 private studios for young designers and their teams; 150sqm of prototyping, manufacture and digital fabrication workshops; 100sqm of bricolage and design workshops for children. The workshops include a wood working area, a metal working area, a ceramics room and a painting room. The open-space is equipped with a 3D printing area, an integrated kitchenette with a chill-out area and a conference room with a large ping-pong table.
Tamina Lolev, Alexandru Radu & Cristina Zlota
Anca Ioana Ionescu Msc student, Urbanism TU Delft
We address all designers, artists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs. Anyone who has an idea, an invention, a prototype and wants to design it beyond theory finds at Nod makerspace the tools, the fabrication equipment and a community for advice and assistance. The transformation of the industrial space was realised in six months, with a team of 15 volunteers and an investment of 120.000 euros: 40% of the total amount was accomplished with sponsorship through products and services from partner companies and the remaining 60% was our private investment. Nod makerspace is designed to function as a business with a clear social component. The long term aim of this project is to create opportunities for improving living standards, both locally and globally, and to incorporate a powerful open-source community. The objective for the first two years is to be a selfsupported makerspace using the services department, such as the workshop facilities: 3d printing, welding, furniture production and design production in general. Afterwards, the percentage of revenue from services should decline. Also the plan is that the profit will be reinvested in the development of the space and equipment or in the emerging businesses. Nod is therefore something between a business and an NGO because it is for and about the community and its needs. It is self-sustaining and the profit will be constantly reinvested in development. Currently, Nod makerspace extends up to 1000sqm, comprising a logistical reconfiguration of the technical workshops and a public events area. There are a lot of projects developing at the same time at Nod: the makers’ own projects, competitions for designers and the production of their prototypes (financed by different actors – for example, Peroni design competition), building the prototypes of a series of exhibits for a science center in Bucharest-Casa experimentelor, La firul ierbii – the transformation
of another industrial space into a debate and public initiatives center etcetera. During 2015 Nod hosted dozens of public events, such as public debates for good governance, seminars, thematic workshops, career guidance conferences for young people, creative workshops with children and adults and a design fair with local products. (the Maker) About the makers (by Alexandru Radu) You are one of the first makers of Nod. What is your story? My name is Alexandru Radu, I am 26 years old and I am a Structural Engineer from Bucharest, Romania. Since childhood I have been fascinated by structures, in particular 3D structures, made of wood and metal. In school, my passion for aeroplanes grew so much that I remember secretly filling up all my notebooks with sketches of aero models during my classes. As years passed I embarked into adulthood and I decided to pursue a career in Civil Engineering, tunnels and bridges section. My thirst for knowledge didn’t end there and I moved to Denmark to start a
1. Nod Makerspace , 650m of common workspace renovated by a large team of makers © Catalin Georgescu 2. First meeting with Nod Makerspace community: people that build their own projects and people that build projects together. This encounter ended up with a conclusion: ‘so many things can be achieved when people gather and listen to each other!’ (Nod Makerspace on Facebook) ©Nod Makerspace 3. Launching the Planescaler ©Nod Makerspace
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Master program in Structural and Civil Engineering. However, all this failed to meet my expectations and the professional vision I had moulded throughout the years. I introspected on what I truly wanted to do in life and the answer didn’t hesistate to appear. My passion for aeroplanes was still alive and I suddenly realized I should dedicate all my time to making my dream come true. In May 2014, after one year abroad, I came back home and started my education in entrepreneurship. Shortly after this I met Florin, the co-founder of NOD Makerspace. Together, we created Planescaler, an aeroscale factory. A Planescaler model is a faithful Radio Controlled (RC) replica (90%-95%) of a real airplane, that maintains and incorporates the materials and building techniques used in the real aircraft production. Planescaler offers a unique experience to the clients through their customized products. Giant aeroscale models combine the flight characteristics of a real aircraft with the authenticity and particularization of our designed and manufactured products. I started building the first prototype in a diorama studio, while at the same time NOD Makerspace was under construction. I moved to NOD Makerspace in 2015 while I was still working on the first prototype and I volunteered to share my knowledge with the team for the finalization process of the construction site. Although each person working at NOD has a different passion and background, like arts, electronics, IT, product design or architecture, we all share the same vision: to make the best of who we are and to follow our heart. My mission at NOD Makerspace is to continue developing Planescaler, while leveraging my skills and experience for the betterment of the community. (the Space) Nod in Bucharest (by Cristina Zlota) What does Nod Makerspace change in Bucharest? Creativity and culture play a crucial role in contemporary societies that aim for a higher quality of living. Contemporary Bucharest is working on growing its cultural scene, focusing on its fastest growing economic sector: the creative industries. With a population of almost 2 million, Bucharest is a very mixed city in terms of both socio-cultural and built environment aspects. The city grew without clear physical and legal borders, in a continuous loop of incomplete grand urban planning visions. Today, Bucharest represents a strong engine for generating economic growth and new jobs through the creative industries, ranking no. 18 out of 253 European regions by salary share of creative industries compared to other economic sectors (according to a study conducted by GEA Strategy & Consulting – The economic importance of creative industries: a territorial approach).
Promoting a specific local culture as the core premise for a complex process of community development, Bucharest is experiencing a natural tendency for transforming unused industrial buildings. A group of businesses, active in the local creative community, have recently moved their activities in to the former cotton factory of Bucharest [Nod Makerspace, ed.]. At the same time, the group is focusing part of their efforts on the urban transformation of this former industrial area that is very close to the city center, with great accessibility and a good connection to Dâmbovița River. The final goal for this transformation process is developing the area into an important center for Bucharest’s creative industries scene. In the longer term (until 2021), we envision the former cotton factory to be fully transformed and also to function as a successful example to follow for developing similar hubs for creativity and entrepreneurship. At the same time, we believe that active citizen participation in the process of urban development is one of the big shifts in how we decide to inhabit our cities today. Though a bit optimistic for the local urban environment, we see Bucharest as a collective project rather than a rigid plan concerning only the urban planners and the public administration. We quickly realized that our efforts to transform the former cotton factory needed to also have a strong connection with the local communities in Bucharest (other than just those concerning the creative industries). Recently, you inaugurated a project entitled ‘La Firul Ierbii’ (Grassroots) and so the transformation of the factory continues. The construction site is open and anybody can join in the making of the space. What is the story behind ‘La Firul Ierbii’? We developed our latest project “La Firul Ierbii” (Grassroots), as a center for sharing ideas, debates and civic initiatives aimed at strengthening the local creatives’ interactions within and with different active communities in Bucharest. This project is designed 33
4. Exterior perspective image of Nod Makerspace, a former industrial cotton factory placed on the edge of Dâmbovița River in Bucharest ©Nod Makerspace 5. Cristina Zlota in her office at Nod Makerspace © Catalin Georgescu 6. Tamina Lolev, debates durring site construction at Nod Makerspace ©Nod Makerspace 7.Painting the Planescaler ©Nod Makerspace
as a communication and collaboration tool for the further transformation of the cotton factory. The main activities of “La Firul Ierbii” will be the hosting of public debates, dialogue sessions (between public administration, NGOs and active citizens), workshops and working groups (focused on community building), training sessions, conferences and lectures for the creative and social business communities, press conferences on relevant city issues etcetera. Also, the project will be a platform for informal meetings and working and neighborhood evenings intended for the local community (movie nights, unplugged concerts, theatre plays and community cook-offs). Due to the lack of previous similar local initiatives we envision this project as a continuous process of learning by doing, defined by the people actively involved and not by a rigid coordination effort. With “La Firul Ierbii” our goal is to help kick-start a local culture of civic implication and honest dialogue between citizens and administration.
Tamina Lolev, architect co-founder @ Nod makerspace Tamina is a young architect, partner at Wolfhouse Productions (design studio) and co-founder of Nod makerspace. During her architectural studies she had international education and professional experiences in Belgium and Shanghai. In 2012 she co-founded Calup project, a series of cultural events aiming at the temporary conversion of unused buildings in Bucharest. Since 2015 Tamina, together with Florin Cobuz has managed the Nod makerspace design and construction site in the former cotton factory, while developing a series of collateral projects for the makerspace.
Alexandru Radu, co-founder of the start-up Planescaler Alex has the background of a structural engineer. Besides design, he is passionate about Giant Aeroscale RC (radio-controlled) models, designing and construction. His skills range from working with strength of materials, structural calculations, construction details for prototyping and design objects. Cristina Zlota, urbanist and designer @ Wolfhouse Productions Cristina is an urbanist and co-founder of the Bucharest based Wolfhouse Productions (design studio). She has recently returned to work in her home city after gaining valuable experience working on urban planning projects with LIN Architects and COBE, both based in Berlin (DE). Her recent interests cover a wide range of design scales, from urban transformation of former industrial sites to fashion design adapted for the particularities of Bucharest’s urban environment. •