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Hybrid Makerspaces and Networks for the Circular City: A Case Study of Leuven, Belgium

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Schroder, Ingrid 
Elwakil, Reham 


This study addresses the questions of how makerspaces can be drivers for urban circular development and what are the roles of coordinating policy, makers, and materials to achieve success. The network of maker activities in the city of Leuven is a flagship initiative that illustrates the mechanisms that support integrated circular urban production. This study draws on the Pop-Machina project, funded by EC Horizon 2020, which identifies the links between the maker movement and the circular economy in seven European cities. The case study project in Leuven, confirmed as the most impactful amongst those studied in the Pop-Machina project, is examined to assess how local knowledge and policy measures can provide a means of activating a circular maker ecology. Through desk research, spatial urban analysis, and interviews with key stakeholders, this study provides a critical narrative of the development, success factors, and hurdles related to circular making processes in the city. The study introduces the notion of hybrid makerspaces as a manifestation of linking maker activities to create critical mass and share material, human, and spatial resources. It demonstrates how successful hybrid makers are supported by local, national, and international policy on the one hand and by integration with the city’s community, educational, and business groups on the other. It is this constellation of social, political, and spatial conditions that lies at the success of the project.


Peer reviewed: True

Publication status: Published


networks, Leuven, makerspaces, circular cities, case study, urban manufacturing, Maakleerplek, circular economy

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European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (821479)