The HackSpace: a community centre which plans to always evolve
The mechanical engineer from London, who grew up between Peterborough and the capital, opened The HackSpace just before the first lockdown – but fell victim to the mandatory closure order which also saw shops, libraries and offices turn out their lights.
Despite the shutdown, Clark tried to see it as an opportunity. The large space in Peartree Business Centre, Bretton, left room for so many opportunities and with no customers allowed through the door, he had time to bring them to life.
Speaking to Peterborough Matters, he said: “Lockdown was a gift for us, in a way, because it enabled time to build the space.
“But I admit, when I first moved in I thought there was plenty of space and now it’s almost full and I don't know if it’s enough.”
Although still being adapted, The HackSpace has workspace for metal and woodwork, electronics, textiles and 3D printing as well as a community café and the coworking space that currently funds the other facilities.
And plans for a social area – featuring a taxi adapted into a two-person cinema – are underway, with Clark hoping to make that happen “within weeks”.
He said: “This space is always going to be evolving. As we get more members with more and different needs, the space will change with it.”
The HackSpace currently houses 69 members and the team – which includes a number of young people from the government’s Kickstart scheme – is still working out the core hours.
A number of plans are in place, for those who just want to use the workshop, those who just want to use the co-working space and those who would like to mix and match with both.
Clark feels that success for The HackSpace will lead to more opportunities in Peterborough, which he thinks is a place that has yet to make the most of its potential.
He said: “Peterborough is really creative, it’s a really creative city, but it’s disconnected. And because it’s disconnected, people come to expect nothing. But we have some great things happening here and there’s always potential for more great things to be happening, if we get the right facilities and support.
“It’s hard to engage people in Peterborough, but that’s why this space is here. It’s not for profit, we’re a community interest company, so our main goal is to encourage people to create cool stuff, to collaborate, to connect.”