Making spaces? Planning for new forms of urban production

Authors: Brenton Nader*, University of Waterloo, Tara Vinodrai, University of Waterloo
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography
Keywords: manufacturing, entrepreneurship, DIY, urban economies, economic development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Maryland B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In the digital age, observers have heralded the death of manufacturing and the rise of post-industrial economies. Yet, the emergence of relatively inexpensive advanced manufacturing technologies and the related rise of the do-it-yourself (DIY) maker economy and makerspaces suggest such calls are premature. As such, DIY and makerspaces may be viewed as primary mechanisms for returning a form of production to the city, and they represent a potent means of promoting high quality job growth that is in accordance with sustainable economic development and growing interest in localism. To date, there has been very little systematic or in-depth research of urban micro-manufacturing and makerspaces across advanced economies, or their potential contributions to more equitable forms of local economic and urban development.

There are two competing hypotheses related to the emerging geography of the maker economy. On the one hand, the emerging maker economy may be tied to the geography of high-tech and creative urban economies. On the other hand, the skills and technologies necessary for successful makerspaces may be embedded in older industrial regions where there have been strong manufacturing traditions. This paper explores these competing views in the Canadian context and asks the following questions: 1) what is the emerging geography of maker spaces and how does it compare to existing geographies of production; 2) what are the place characteristics associated with the emerging maker economy; and 3) what models, policies, and institutions exist that support these emerging forms of manufacturing in urban and regional economies?

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