Christchurch designer creating innovative community space

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17 Aug 2015

A community space that will showcase the latest in 3D printing technology, is about to be launched in central Christchurch by CPIT Bachelor of Design graduate Carl Pavletich.

Speaking to CPIT Art and Design students at the institute's recent industry-focused Contact Week, the former visual communications student described his recent journey since leaving the corporate design world behind in favour of social enterprise projects a year ago.

The first of these was the establishment of a Fab Lab - a fabrication laboratory - part of an international chain of 4000 labs in 40 countries across the world.  Set in shipping containers, these are small-scale workshops offering 3D printing facilities that people can hire at minimal cost to make a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model. This can include anything from furniture and objects to houses.

However, the Fab Lab concept has grown into a more permanent enterprise for Pavletich and his colleagues with the Pop Lab, which opens on Gloucester Street this month.

Still in its infancy, the community lab concept was similar to the original idea behind the World Wide Web invented by English computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, who created a go-to place for sharing knowledge, ideas and information, Pavletich said.

 

Out of the box: 3D printing is making it more possible to think outside the square in design. Pictured, designer Carl Pavletich, working in his soon to be opened community space, the Pop Lab, on Gloucester Street.

"It feels a bit like the start of the internet - sharing information in a collaborative space," Pavletich said. 

He intends running workshops to show people how to operate the equipment and what it can do for them in terms of making design ideas a reality. Pop Lab will also showcase some of its projects that highlight our increasingly automated world. 

This includes his "swarmbots", robots that simulate predator - prey reactions. They're used to show what happens during the Beech Mast phenomena in our forests, when trees produce an over-abundance of seeds. This leads to greater numbers of rats and mice, who turn on native birds when food stores run out.

Aimed at children, but also of interest to adults, the project combines 3D printing, bio-diversity and conservation. Kids will get to build and play with a swarmbot, which can act as predator or prey, using scattered magnets to simulate seeds on the forest floor that get gobbled-up by both birds and rodents. The game mimics what happens in an eco-system collapse, highlighting when humans have to intervene with pest-control measures to re-address the ecological imbalance.

"If robots are going to take over the world and wipe out 70 per cent of our jobs in the future, they may as well be good ones," Pavletich said.

And the key to not letting the robots and automation get out of hand was to use technology for the greater good, he said.

"We're in phase one of developing the project, and we're talking to schools and the Department of Conservation to roll it out in the next year."

He encouraged students and community to seize on ideas that encourage self-sufficiency and knowledge-sharing, and advised that there was no better time to do it than during the Christchurch rebuild, when cutting-edge innovation was at the fore.