Manufacturing in cities

With industrialization, and then globalization, most cities in North America and Europe have moved away from local manufacturing. This has resulted in a disconnect between making and citizens, much like the disconnect with nature, and the animals we eat. As a “consequence manufacturing only takes a little role in the urban life in European cities today, shifting the focus on services rather than production.” That’s a problem on multiple levels and there are good reasons to bring back more local manufacturing, not the least of which being resilience.

[L]ocal manufacturing plays a key role in “resilient city making”. It supports and sustains the local (circular and equitable) economy and is stimulating innovation through cross-pollination of expertise and practices across world regions.

Make Works is a global platform for local manufacturing that “connects people and organizations who are interested in making with people who make.” With detailed listings, they can give visibility to companies and be a useful intersection for client work and collaboration between manufacturers.

Showcasing the local production capacity, Make Works is able to foster material exchanges of local actors for a circular production, cross-pollinate knowledge and build communities. The platform, together with the regional communities, can increase the resilience of cities by cultivating these connections and supporting the local economy.

A promising “tweak” on such directories and projects, which are often purely digital, is that each region established on Make Works is led by a local regional team or champion who find companies and make connections between them.

The article mentions two local groups, Paris and Barcelona, both are not working alone, integrating with local partners with similar and compatible visions, and the Catalonian team hints at another direction with quite a bit of potential; re-invigorating previous manufacturing neighbourhoods and creating opportunities for circular economy collaborations.

Make Works Catalonia wants to map and give visibility to the productivity potential of Poblenou, by connecting local manufacturers and fostering collaboration through circular economy practices.

Image: Zanelli © Fab Lab Barcelona.