"A los ignorantes los aventajan los que leen libros. A Éstos, los que retienen lo leído. A Éstos, los que comprenden lo leído. A Éstos, los que ponen manos a la obra."
(Proverbio Hindú)


A space to experiment with and build digitally produced objects through 3D printers, milling machines and other computer programmes. This idea was conceived in 2000 at MIT by Neil Gershenfed, director of the CBA (Centre for Bits and Atoms). The underlying idea/principle is to facilitate technological progress by allowing personal creativity to flourish and grow. To achieve this, we must preserve technological and educational limits in a setting such as FAB LAB.

This type of environment teaches to manage design programmes, as well as how to use machines with which you can build actual physical objects (machines which build machines). For example, a 3D printer which can print the parts needed to assemble a second 3D printer, or 3D scanner.

Here the benefits can be reaped twofold: on the one hand FAB LAB gives rise to a new wave of designers and experts who will eventually facilitate and simplify these technological processes; and on the other hand, any individual with a creative idea can enter this space with a digital folder, transform this into an actual 3D object, ready to take home. This enables him/her to develop prototypes from home, without the need for an actual industrial laboratory.
Operarii Lapis


This term, coined by Neil Gershenfeld, and inspired by the expression ‘personal computation’, signifies the importance in making digital printing and manufacturing equipment progressively cheaper, lighter and economical, just as computers and telephones became in his generation.

This idea is so blatantly obvious that it is difficult to comprehend why it is not yet democratized: in today’s world, any individual is able to photocopy or print a text in PDF format in his own home, which vastly facilitates the transfer and acquisition of knowledge. However, it is still practically impossible to access a 3D printer, putting to waste the calculation power of personal computers, and the potential of design programmes such as SKETCHUP.

See international architecture workshop, Artifexworkshop.



At Artifex we aim to recreate an environment similar to FAB LAB, focusing on appropriate technology rather than on high-tech. We offer a space where students can, on the one hand, come and learn about building with local materials, classical sculpture, stonemasonry or mosaics and, on the other hand, a place where we can help students improve specific aspects of their project.. For example, the construction of a vault or a mosaic design.

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1) Establish priorities: there is a tendency to dedicate the majority of efforts and investments to creating huge shells (art centres, museums, mansions, laboratories and research centres…), which are subsequently abandoned and starved of all human, logistic and financial resources. In other cases, expensive pieces of equipment such as 3D scanners or CNC milling machines are acquired by companies or universities, where they fade away for lack of use. In an environment which witnesses rapid technological improvements, these machines become obsolete. The first step towards changing this would thus be to consolidate a team of pilots and mechanics prior to investing in motors or formula1 tracks.

2) Critical mass, excellence, meritocracy: until there exists a critical mass of designers and investigators backed by a combination of high-tech (such as LAB TEC) and low-tech (such as Artifex), we cannot develop a culture where innovation becomes a driving force for the economy. Only with enough designers and investigators, and the luxury of choice, can we truly create groundbreaking projects. Here we speak, obviously, of clusters. However, a cluster which isn’t based on excellence and meritocracy has very predictable limits.

2) Finances: a government supported initiative, dependent on scarce funding, is doomed from the word go. We need self-financed projects, or sponsors that obtain an adequate return.



Without Florence, the renaissance would have been different. Indeed it might not have occurred at all. We may see Florence as a cluster of governors and clients that appreciate the talents of creators such as Leonardo and Michelangelo. And we were given Michelangelo because he had the chance to learn from a Ghirlandaio or a Jacopo della Quercia, and also because he knew and debated with Poliziano and other humanists from the Medici circles, such as Giovanni della Mirandola.

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