Along the Maker Mile: Fix Our City at Machines Room!

So, Fix Our City seemed like it only happened yesterday! It’s still so fresh on all our minds here at Machines Room. The exhibition and events programme, part of the Maker Mile and London Design Festival, created quite a rich snapshot of a huge range of amazing projects which have begun, and will continue to grow, in the Maker Mile and Machines Room. It was really inspiring to see so many people, all in one exhibition, all dedicated in different ways to the transformation of city life, whether through sustainist design principles, circular economy, or open design methods of making. So refreshing and reinvigorating to celebrate just how much we have achieved!

The opening day was a huge success – Machines Room was buzzing, people were engaging with the displays, and the Maker Mile tours were introducing people to all the enterprises packed into Vyner St. Our intro stand set out the concepts, principles, and networks which helped to create the exhibition, and the displays inside, all made from recycled materials, showed off each of the 17 projects involved:

The Clear Village team delivered an excellent workshop on vertical gardening, showing how farming techniques from their walled garden in Bedfordshire can be brought into urban settings. With simple hydroponics and recycled milk bottles, even a tiny flat can accommodate a home-grown salad!

Opendesk, who are completely rethinking the 21st century model of manufacturing by creating furniture that can be downloaded and made locally, anywhere in the world, ran a great workshop series on open design principles. They shared their expertise and making skills with both beginners and professional designers, who created mini versions of Opendesk furniture!

People were queuing up to try out Time to React, one of Helen Steer’s Do It Kits which kids can programme to measure different phenomena, such as the speed of your reflexes. The kits also introduce programming, collective data gathering, and open source knowledge into the classroom.

Fix Our City has clearly helped contributors to move their projects forward beyond the exhibition. One of these is DisruptDisability, who are doing groundbreaking work on the wheelchair design and manufacturing process by introducing user innovation, open source design, digital fabrication and distributed manufacturing. Alongside a live 3D printing demo of wheelchair parts, they hosted a fantastic conference on wheelchair design. Since the exhibition they have had the great news that they are the recipients of the UnLtd Do It Award, which will help propel them to the next stage of their journey. Congrats, DisruptDisability!


Another trajectory that Fix Our City is proud to have supported is Peter A Smith’s Deadwood project, where he engages with the principles of circular economy by collecting scrap wood and transforming it into beautiful handmade objects using a traditional wood lathe. Alongside this project was another endeavour into circular economy, a project called Recycling.Sorted., Katrine Hesseldahl’s collaboration with B&Q and Recycle Now to develop prototypes for at-home recycling systems that look good. We are proud to be able to say that Fix Our City helped both these projects along in crystallizing their ideas.

Another cool contributor was Kniterate, who are bringing apparel design and production back into the home and community with their knitting machine and user-friendly design software. Their machine was on display, doing live demos throughout the exhibition:

Let’s not forget that Machines Room’s home-grown plastic recycling system was in the mix; for Fix Our City we showed off just how far we’ve come in developing our own diy method of turning waste plastic into beautiful mold-pressed recycled plastic objects!


And it didn’t end with Precious Plastic – there is not enough room in one blog to cover it all! We were overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm, sense of community, and dedication that each contributor gave to Fix Our City. Through great teamwork we made an exhibition which circumvented traditional city systems: systems of recycling, systems of design, systems of distribution, and systems of learning and knowledge sharing. Fix Our City showed how we can replace these systems with more sustainable ones, and give people more agency in their everyday lives through making.

For a full list of contributors please feel free to download our exhibition catalogue here.