medialab@hfg – Makerplace or Waste of Space?
co-creation & making
The media lab of our university is a communal space and workshop for all students. It was originally opened in 2006 by three former students and, with the launch of the Interaction Design program, it became a central meeting point for all those dealing with human-machine interfaces. We looked into how the media lab could encourage students to use it more independently and let them participate in shaping the space. Our intention was to promote exchange, the exploration of technology and self-study.
We wanted to do something with a lasting effect, which is why we chose to engage first-year students into the process of improving the media lab and crowdsource ideas together. [Todo: Complete text for workshop]
Embracing the Exploration of Technology
Mounted on each board is an Arduino, connected to a single component with visible wiring. When the board is plugged in via USB, students receive an interactive demonstration explaining the part’s input and output capabilities.
We displayed the showcase with four stations at the semester exhibition, which sparked many conversations about physical prototyping in the media lab. People could go up to the stations, connect one of the boards themselves and interact with the system playfully.
Since we did not want to answer the question of whether the media lab was a waste of space with a "yes" in the first place, we were happy to find that students still care to participate in shaping everyday student life and to move things forward. When asking ourselves what the tangible result of the project would be, the tech showcase was a practical way to fulfil the project’s design part, even though the lack of an academic assistant for the lab meant that the project was unlikely to catch on in the long term.
medialab@hfg is the result of a freely chosen project Jenni and I did for our sixth-semester project. Special thanks to Prof. Hans Krämer and Ann-Katrin Spörl for mentoring, as well as as to the amazing first-year students with whom we had a really great time.