A center for innovation and sustainable development where the heritage of traditional crafts harmoniously coexists with modern technologies and equipment. The team at METALAB shared a vision of bringing makers together into a comprehensive and supportive ecosystem. To achieve this, we created a makerspace, a platform for learning, experimenting, and sharing knowledge about production. The principles of circular economy and universal design are at the core of this platform.


FORMAT: research, education, residencie, object design
WHEN: 2019 to now

RELATED PROJECTS: Sustainable Materials Lab,  City Scanning Session, NEF
PARTNERS: Garage Hub, Scientific & Artistic Platform “Ostriv”, Intelcom, Teple Misto, Promprylad.Renovation, At Stake, HIWW, Cadus, GIG, Faculty of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University
DONORS: USAID, UNHCR, GIZ, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Bureau Kyiv — Ukraine, EU program “Mayors for Economic Growth”


The practice of creating open workshops is widespread all over the world, as they become centers of innovation in the regions. Makerspace is a place where traditional crafts and modern technologies and equipment coexist harmoniously. The idea of open workshops came to METALAB after a series of tactical interventions with the city. This is how we realized that even with the help of tiny elements, such as ramps, comfortable benches, or drinking fountains, we can change the city for the better. We wanted to prototype products on a regular and cost-effective basis. So, the METALAB team started dreaming of a space where like-minded people could gather to share experiences and equipment, as well as create joint projects.

On the territory of the former Promprylad plant, craftsmen and women had already rented workspaces and cooperated. We decided to create a community that could receive comprehensive support from us, including the search for funding to buy new hardware. That’s how the Parasolka open shop was born – an ecosystem of makers creating innovative products at different industries’ intersections. Makerspace became the leading platform of the City Scanning Session festival. Our team analyzed whether people were ready for this format and how interested they would be. After all, Ivano-Frankivsk already has a lot of talented crafters and great potential for product design development.

Consequently, the Parasolka open workshop became a space for learning and experimentation, equipped with modern hardware and tools for working with various materials. The makerspace included sewing, wooden, ceramic, and metal workshops. We also created a robotics area, a digital manufacturing space for 3D printing, a sustainable materials laboratory, and a plastic recycling station. With the New Economy of Ivano-Frankivsk project, the makerspace has evolved into a platform for supporting and developing the local economy. At the workshops, teams perform on developing new products for local businesses, from furniture or lamps to acoustic panels made from recycled textiles.

One of the makerspace’s focuses is sustainable practices in construction and design. We have a sustainable materials laboratory with a library of samples. The METALAB team and residents experiment with environmentally friendly and energy-efficient materials, as well as reuse and recycling practices. This research allows us to reassess existing materials and unlock the potential of new ones. We implement products made of sustainable materials in the makerspace to see how they stand the test of time.

Following the full-scale invasion, the Parasolka open workshop has provided a platform for relocated makers, startups, and small businesses. Teams from various cities of Ukraine have created prosthetic limbs, prototyped turnstiles, and made leather goods. Currently, the workshops produce furniture for CO-HATY housing, and the 3D printing studio is working on individual prosthetics, orthoses, and bone models that medical professionals can use for training.

Makerspace residents use modern, powerful equipment and expertise to create innovative developments at the intersection of industries. They work in wood, metal, and ceramic workshops, adapting traditional material processing practices to the modern context and supporting cultural revival. The resident community is committed to cooperation and sharing experiences. Together, the craftsmen and women implement creative solutions at the intersection of spheres and promote a culture of research and invention. That’s why responding quickly to today’s challenges and crises in our projects is possible. For example, they create prosthetic parts on 3D printers, convert buses into evacuation ambulances, invent technologies for coloring metal without dyes, etc.

The METALAB team expects the makerspace to play a vital role in building community, stimulating innovation, supporting local businesses, and promoting sustainable development in the region by our example. In the summer of 2024, we intend to open the newly renovated makerspace with a new name — POLE. It will be an environment for the growth of ideas, knowledge, products, and the professional community. The 1200 m² space includes workshops and R&D offices, laboratories, coworking spaces, and a space for events and community building.

At POLE, everyone can grow a product from an idea. Here, you can set up small-scale production, rent equipment, learn how to work with it, and experiment, prototype, and test new products. The primary value of the makerspace is people. For six years, a community of manufacturers from various industries has been growing around our project. Working together, we create innovative solutions at the intersection of multiple sectors.