With the continued introduction of new technologies into global marketplaces, the interaction of architectural spaces and technology is constantly being reassessed. Jason Kelly Johnson, a trained architect and alumnus of the University of Virginia, is attempting to better understand and design spaces that allow for the creation of community through the use of public spaces and the integration of technology.
As part of the Transduction Open Table series, Johnson expanded on his work, further describing the ideas of Maker Spaces and Hacker Spaces. Maker Spaces, defined loosely as “community centers with tools,” are centers in which members of communities can come together, using new technologies to brainstorm and create new ideas. Similarly, Hacker Spaces are communal environments where computer hackers can come together to work on coding using collaboration. In order to further promote the construction of Maker/Hacker spaces, Johnson and his partner, Nataly Gattegno, founded the Future Cities Lab, an experimental design studio in San Francisco that seeks to better understand the intersection of art and design.
During his talk, Johnson highlighted a number of Maker/Hacker Spaces throughout the world that have effectively embodied the idea of combining a communal atmosphere with new technologies. The Chaos Computer Club, a Hacker space organization found throughout Europe, allows computer programmers to come together to work on new challenges with one another. A novel feature of this organization is their emphasis that hackers work in a circle, a seating pattern that allows for easier channels of collaboration. The NYC Resistor is another Maker Space that encourages people from various disciplines to work with one another, collaboration that is further encouraged by NYC Resistor’s communal laser cutter. Maker/Hacker Spaces are becoming more prevalent throughout the world, helped largely by curious individuals like John Kelly Johnson.
As the Open Table discussion continued, the focus shifted to OpenGrounds as a Maker Space at UVA. Assessing the space around him, Johnson discussed how OpenGround’s design, including it’s moveable tables, the prevalence of different technologies, and the coffee area, was a perfect encapsulation of what a Maker Space should be. OpenGrounds, located on the divide between town and university communities, actively encourages all residents of Charlottesville to come together across disciplines and boundaries.
Members of the community participating in the Open Table discussion furthered this dialogue, highlighting other Maker/Hacker Spaces across the UVA and Charlottesville communities, including the Darden iLab, the Scholars Lab, and Hack Cville. After listing the variety of Makerspaces/Hackerspaces across these two communities, Johnson raised the idea of creating a maker network or exchange that allows these communal spaces to interact and share resources with one another. OpenGrounds hopes to participate in these continued collaborations, and also continues to strive to better encapsulate an effective Maker Space for the surrounding community.