Access Space is the UK’s longest running free, open access digital media lab.
At Access Space, people interested in art, design, computers, recycling, music, electronics, photography and more meet like-minded people, share and develop skills and work on creative, enterprising and technical projects.
Access Space consists of two separate facilities in the same building, the Access Space Media Lab, open since 2000, and Refab Space, a DIY FabLab, developed and completed in 2012.
The open access Media Lab provides at least 220 days of walk-in, free public access each year. We provide free internet access and software tools for a huge range of activity in a supportive environment. Anyone is welcome come in and sign up!
Refab Space, with its suite of rapid prototyping tools, for instance, a laser cutter and 3D printer, benefits artists, business start-ups and the community as a whole.
Access Space is an inclusive environment. As well as working with artists, academics, creative technologists, programmers, other professionals and students, 50% of the participation in Access Space’s activities are from people in danger of exclusion and on the margins of society, including: people with disabilities, homeless people, ex-offenders, asylum seekers, refugees and people with mental health issues. Through Refab Space, Access Space engages with self starters and entrepreneurs as well.
One of the strengths of Access Space is that it brings people from different backgrounds together.
We aim to inspire people to do new creative things; we aim to make a positive impact on people’s lives by helping them to get out of their comfort zone in a supportive environment.
Access Space uses only Free & Open Source Software. It is also a computer recycler, receiving donations of over 500 computers a year from the public and local businesses. Many are used to teach members of the public to build their own computers or repaired and used for creative activity in the space.
We operate at a very low cost with a minimal carbon footprint through our innovative model, which combines free, open source software and locally sourced recycled computers with the collective know-how of a skill-sharing community. The capital cost of the lab is next to nothing, upgrades are free, and the capacity of the lab to deliver skills increases with usage.