Access Space

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Access Space exterior in August 2011, featuring graffiti by Kid Acne.

Access Space is an open digital arts lab in Sheffield in the United Kingdom. It is the longest running free media lab in the UK, practising and promoting sustainability through re-use of technology.[1] The lab is funded by the Arts Council of England, the European Social Fund of the European Union, and the National Lottery of the UK.[2]


Access Space showcases the Redundant Technology Initiative, only using hardware that it can get for free and rejuvenating it with free/open source software.[3] Its works have also included the Zero Dollar Laptop project, where redundant technology is made useful, used in workshops with homeless and vulnerable people, who keep the laptops they have installed.[4] The Access Space model is itself an open project, and their "Grow Your Own Media Lab" initiative has inspired centres across Europe and Brazil. Their work also extends beyond the digital, such as supporting explorations of technology through traditional craft.[5]

A performance given in Access Space interior
Performance given (interior) during Sheffield Placard festival in 2011


The significance of Access Space's work in education and skill development has been recognised in academic research into models for emerging economies.[6] Access Space have also been recognised as one of Britain's "New Radicals" in a report co-sponsored by The Observer newspaper and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).[7]


  1. ^ Frost, Charlotte (24 January 2012). "Media Lab Culture in the UK". Mute. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  2. ^ "Access Space: About Us". Access Space. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  3. ^ Spencer, Neil (21 February 2001). "High ideals and low technology". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  4. ^ Sterling, Bruce (February 28, 2010). "The Zero Dollar Laptop". Wired. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  5. ^ Dearden, Andy; Light, Ann (2009). "Designing for e-Social Action: An Application Taxonomy" (pdf). Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  6. ^ Walton, J. (2010). "Education and Skill Development through the Reconfiguration of Discarded Hardware: Turning Base Metal into Intellectual Capital". International Conference on Challenges to Inclusive Growth in the Emerging Economies. Ahmedabad: Indian Institutes of Management. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  7. ^ "Britain's 50 New Radicals". NESTA. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 

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Coordinates: 53°22′34″N 1°28′03″W / 53.37608°N 1.46761°W / 53.37608; -1.46761