World's most extraordinary materials feature in "a dream garden shed" at Institute of Making

By Ben Miller | 12 March 2013

New Venue: Institute of Making, University College London, London.

a curator placing objects in a walled display case
The world's most extraordinary objects go on display.© Institute of Making / Robert Eagle

From uranium, glass, steel cloth and magnetic liquid to a rock-turned-optical fibre and a concrete which heals itself with embedded bacteria, there are several doses of magic within this library.

There's more than 1,500 materials at UCL’s new glass-walled Bloomsbury faculty. Then there's neighbouring facility MakeSpace, where 3D printing, sewing machines, soldering irons and a crane seem relatively straightforward among all the milling, drilling, sanding and boiling going on.

All of it is explorable via a phone app making it accessible anywhere in the world.

“The Institute of Making is like a dream garden shed,” says Dr Zoe Laughlan, the resident Creative Director.

“Anything is possible. Every material is to hand, from iron ore to the perfect piece of string. We have created a space where the power and joy of making can be fully realised.”

This is a first for a university engineering space. And it will welcome the public on Saturday afternoon, as well as for events and open days.

“Engineering has been dominated by the internet and the digital sphere for the past 20 years, but people do not live a virtual life,” says Mark Miodownik, who will combine his role of Director with his position as Professor of Materials and Society at the college.

“They live in the real, material world. Making as a way of thinking is fundamental.

“Material science is now coming up with the goods and showing how to remake the world a completely different way.”

Guest experts, residencies and the chances to make, break and repair jewellery and robots are also planned.

More pictures:

A photo of a glowing green silver glass against a black background
Uranium glass© Institute of Making / Robert Eagle
A photo of various small jars containing materials lined up on transparent shelves
Mysterious jars feature heavily© Institute of Making / Robert Eagle
An image of a hand holding up a circle with loads of dark dots on it inside a laboratory
Self-healing concrete© Institute of Making / Robert Eagle
A photo of a pair of hands holding a small transparent jar containing a brown liquid
Magnetic liquid© Institute of Making / Robert Eagle
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