The City Arcade in Coventry might seem like an unlikely setting for a hi-tech laboratory but that’s exactly what’s there, tucked in amongst the shops, salons and cafes on the site of what was once a computer store.
Fab Lab Coventry - a joint venture between the city council, Coventry and Warwick universities and others - is a community space offering access to state-of-the-art computer-controlled tools like 3D printers and laser cutters as well as more traditional metal and wood working tools.
The Fab Lab - short for fabrication laboratory - is open to anyone from budding entrepreneurs to school pupils, sculptors and scientists. But it’s also available to people who are simply looking to gain new skills - or share theirs. While the digital devices and machinery are on the ground floor of the Lab, upstairs there’s a computer room that can be hired for training sessions.
Technicians are also on hand to run classes for those looking to learn how to use the equipment and to offer guidance to anyone looking to test out ideas and develop products.
Retired joiner Tony McCourt is one of the Fab Lab’s most experienced recruits! The 67-year-old - Coventry born and raised - spent over 50 years in the trade, including a long stint running his own building company refurbishing pubs, offices, hotels and schools.
Having done a fair bit of work renovating buildings at Coventry University, Tony got to know some of the people there. Impressed with the quality of his work, his University contacts asked him to help fit out the Fab Lab.
Now Tony has set up a DIY workshop within the Fab Lab where he shares his tricks of the trade. Affectionately known as “Tony’s shed”, his workshop is equipped with various hand tools as well as more heavy duty machinery like a band saw and pillar drill.
Preet Grewel is a local business owner who plans to attend the DIY events at Coventry’s FabLab:
I was very excited when I heard about the opportunity to learn new DIY skills in a friendly environment. I don’t want to rely on my husband for things like putting up shelves but I’ve never really had the opportunity to get the skills myself.
I know lots of women must be in my position, so it’s great to know there is a community facility where we can get the skills we need. It’s especially useful for women who live on their own when they have to do it themselves because no-one is there to help. Not only that but you have to pay a lot of money to get little jobs done – it all mounts up!
It’s nice to see the community and the University working together, as it shows you what can be achieved and that the University is for all of us, not just for the elite. I went to Coventry University when it was the Lanchester back in the 70’s and it was very different then!
Fab Lab Coventry is located in Unit 27 of the City Arcade in Coventry. For further information including facilities and forthcoming events: