April 10, 2024

Fostering Local Heritage Through Digital Fabrication: 3D printing the Cookie Factory’s neighbours

3D printing technologies with new materials such as clay, have made their way into many sectors, from prototyping and manufacturing to education and creative industries, but can they also be a tool to strengthen community ties and value local heritage?

Espacio Open is located in an old cookie factory, in a neighborhood that is undergoing complete urban transformation, La Ribera de Deusto – Zorrotzaurre. With a strong industrial past, factories are giving way to a residential and office neighborhood that will attract new uses and inhabitants. The industrial legacy, which represents an important part of the city’s history, is at risk of disappearing, but it is still maintained through the memory of its neighbors.

Within the Maker Faire Bilbao creative technologies festival, the digital manufacturing laboratory Fab Lab Bilbao launched a new project focused on connecting the neighborhood’s memory and new digital manufacturing technologies. During the festival, the fab lab invited people linked to the neighborhood and the old cookie factory to participate in an activity to print their ceramic sculptures using open source 3D printers.

Some of the people that took part in the activity were Chamorro, the maintenance responsible of the old cookie factory for more than three decades; Azucena, MariJose, Txaro and MariLuz, workers at the seamstresses cooperative placed in the building for twenty years; the cookie workers Rosy and Francis,  and the neighbors Libe, Begoña, Miquel, Iñaki, Humaran and Rosa, among many others. Their ceramic sculptures were printed using the open-source clay printer Jetclay.

Building the wall of memory

As a result of this first initiative, in 2024 Fab Lab Bilbao has promoted the second part of the project, the construction of an open exhibition with the busts of the neighbors. With this initiative, the objective is to honor the people who have been linked to the La Ribera neighborhood and tell their story through them.

The people who will be part of this exhibition are neighbors who have experienced the transformation of this post-industrial neighborhood, workers at the emblematic Artiach cookie factory, entrepreneurs who have developed their project on the island, professionals who spent half their lives in these industrial warehouses,… and many others that are part of the living history of the neighborhood.

Once a month, Espacio Open invites people related to the neighborhood to be scanned and become part of this collective exhibition, which will open at the beginning of summer.

Collaborations with other agents

In addition to the launch of the exhibition, which will continue to grow throughout the year, the Memory Wall initiative will also take new forms through collaboration with other projects and collectives. The intention is that the initiative serves as a starting point to value local identities and promote ties between communities, through the use of technologies. To this end, the project will move to other digital manufacturing centers, with the aim of generating new collaboration ties.

Blog post credits

Karim Asry