A facility known as the Community Education Resource Center (CERC) stood out among the other sites. The CERC facility is ideally located within Awka (considered by many Nigerians to be the innovation hub within Anambra State), sits directly next to a 1,500-student school, and has ample space for expansion. Furthermore, the CERC could have extended hours and could allow access to the general community. Better yet, the facility had a history of PPP (public-private partnership) support. When the CERC was approved as the best location for a potential build-out, the NextFab Foundation design team shifted its attention to designing a state-of-the-art facility.
The team imagined that typical users of the facility would include amateurs, experienced makers, staff, and visitors. To accommodate this broad range of users, FabLab Anambra was designed with three main types of spaces, including an ideation space, a digital lab, and a large workshop space. The Ideation Space would offer space for people to take classes and sketch ideas. The digital lab would be composed of a 3D printing area, a PC lab space for skill development training and a textile area with digital embroidery. The main workshops would include a woodshop, a metal workshop, and a large CNC router.
The team created detailed specifications for user workflow, engineering specs, equipment lists, fixtures such as air conditioning, lighting, ambience, redecoration and facility upgrades, and more.
The team also designed this pilot facility for easy expansion. The whole facility includes several connected spaces that run elegantly around two courtyards. The team believes that there are exciting ways to incorporate additional spaces depending on what is discovered during the pilot. For instance, the facility could easily host new startups, communal spaces, or even become home to new dedicated technologies.
After the pilot is complete, this type of facility could become the exemplar for improving the technical education of youth, and could quickly be replicated throughout the rest of the country.