Surrounded by technology startups and artisan coffee shops in the hip area of Bethnal Green in East London, Machines Room is a makerspace and FabLab that provides workspace and machine shop access to local businesses, artists, designers, technologists and engineers.
Machines Room’s main draw is likely its room-sized ShopBot CNC router – which is big enough to cut out entire parts for pieces of furniture – but it also houses an impressive Laserscript laser cutter, 3D printers and scanners, a wood- and metal-working machine shop, and a knitting machine. You can also pop in and check out the books in its Maker Library, or pick up a new novel from its book vending machine.
It attracts a lot of members with an interest in sustainability and accessibility projects: one of its residents is Disrupt Disability, a startup developing modular customisable wheelchair parts, and previous residents have created lamps made out of recycled plastic bottles and homebrew plastic recycling processes. Other members work on projects ranging from furniture making and boat building to robotics and creating new bio-fabrics, and the space is often used by startups and entrepreneurs to develop and launch new products. They also provide fabrication services for people who need parts made, whether that’s someone who needs to replace a broken hook in their kitchen or a company that needs to kit out an entire office with CNC-routed furniture.
The space is wheelchair accessible and welcomes a broad mixture of people from technology and arts backgrounds, supported by a small and knowledgeable team of staff members. They also run a Maker in Residence program that provides free membership and access to machines for projects with a positive social or environment impact.
Machines Shop is rooted in London maker culture: they’re part of the Maker Mile, a square mile in East London filled with open workshops, hardware startups and studios, and are also part of London’s Open Workshop Network. They’re just down the road from London Hackspace (the largest and one of the earliest hackerspaces in the UK). In 2016 they hosted a BBC film crew shooting The Big Life Fix, a TV show where makers created life-changing technical solutions for people in desperate need.
They also regularly host classes, workshops and conferences in everything from 3D modeling and Internet of Things hardware to urban gardening and sustainable making practices, and both their main space and their classroom / meeting room are available for hire. Check out their Meetup and Eventbrite pages for upcoming events.
Machines Room is open during the day Monday-Friday, with late opening on Wednesdays. Their basic membership rate is £5pm for access during opening hours (machine usage is charged on top of that and is paid by the hour), but dedicated desks and workbays are available from £150pm with 24/7 access and some free machine time thrown in. If you’re interested in joining, they have a workshop tour at 12pm every Friday where you can have a look round and get information on signing up.
Header image: A promo leaflet for Machines Room shows women using power tools front and center