Hey Durban creatives – want to learn all about electronics, 3D printing, Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, leatherworking and other low-cost local manufacturing? Then you’re in luck – theMakerSpace opened its doors for regular meetups on Tuesday night at The Foundry, and it has ambitious plans for you, for Durban and the whole of South Africa.

theMakerSpace founder, Steve Gray, has published a mini manifesto on the homepage for the workspace, and it’s worth reading for anyone who wants to know why making is important for economies across Africa. Here, more than anywhere, access to cheap tools to build and sell stuff on a small-scale could change lives.

The fact is that the Maker Movement is happening. Technology has evolved to the point where someone can, in their local maker space, create many items of better quality and more meaningfully than mass production has previously been able to deliver. And everyday more people are joining the movement as they realize the creative potential within themselves. International commentators are going as far as to call it “the new industrial revolution”.

Gray hopes that theMakerSpace will be able to create a model for other South African workspaces to operate. As well as being a place for hobbiests and enthusiasts to catch up at weekly meetups and share their work and tips, Gray envisions spinning theMakerSpace out into a nationally franchised chain, not unlike The TechShop in the US.

That’s a place anyone can arrive and use big machinery they don’t have access to at home or learn the skills they need to become a maker.

“I describe it as Virgin Active for the brain,” Gray says, “You become a member, you get access to people, space and tools and you get an experience.”

Not convinced? Check out the laser-cut coffee hacking below:

Ultimately, he says, there’s room for as many hackerspaces as there are highstreets, and thinks that a realistic target for theMakerSpace would be 200 open access workshops around the country.

In the meantime, theMakerSpace doors are open at The Foundry business centre on Station Drive in Berea, and there’s a leatherworking course planned for the end of the month.

And this is what it looks like.

[Images courtesy of Geekulcha’s Mixo Ngoveni]
Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.