Gabriel Pereira

IhacLab-i: Creating A Non-hierarchical Open Space For Sociotechnical Innovation In Salvador, Brazil

As part of our Social IT Solutions workshop in Brazil (2020), we got to know and work at IhacLab-i, an open space of creation and innovation at UFBA (Federal University of Bahia). We wrote a post at the GMTaC blog that talks a bit more about the space, its projects, and the philosophy behind it all. Pedro Torres also interviewed Prof. Paulo Gomes, one of the creators and maintainers of the space.

In Brazil, much of the plastic gets thrown away and picked by “catadores,” people who scavenge trash bins and dumps looking for recyclable material. The “catadores” go on to sell whatever they collect to companies for pennies, as the plastic makes its way up the recycling supply chain. The final result often are Chinese-made souvenirs, that get sold back to Brazil, in an environmentally unfriendly and economically unjust cycle. In face of such a problem, Professor Paulo Gomes decided the value transformation of these recyclables should happen at the source: the underpaid “catadores” who collect the material. His solution: creating a simple DIY kit that allows these workers to melt and mold the plastic into a new material that can be used to construct many things, from shelves to table tops to stool seats. The project is called “Zero: no plastic left behind.”

This project and many other innovative solutions are being developed out of IhacLab-i, an open space of creation and innovation at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), in Salvador, Brazil. The lab emerged in 2015, when the university administration asked Professor Gomes to help support the university’s technological innovation programs. He understood that there was a need for something different, a space that would support the students and the community to build and develop innovations that are connected to society. Most importantly, this would be a space that was not built in a hierarchical structure, but rather in the spirit of open access, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.

Read the rest of the blog post annd interview on the GMTaC website.

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