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This Shanghai Creative Hotspot Lets Members Use Their Tech for Projects

Xinchejian - hackerspace, maker’s club and creative hotspot.
2021-03-19 12:00:00
Photos: Angela Leung
"Offbeat" is a column about stuff to look at or do in Shanghai that's interesting or weird (relatively, of course), that doesn't fit anywhere else.

Xinchejian has recently taken over a rooftop in Laoximen. We caught up with them to find out what's new.

What is Xinchejian and how did it start?

"Xinchejian is a maker's space. We started in 2010 to offer the cheapest facilities we can to people, to allow them the opportunity and capability to work on stuff that they want. Our members have access to the facilities such as wood and metalworking equipment, 3D printing, coding, hacking and heaps more."

James from Xinchejian demonstrates how to use a soldering oven.

"We do a bunch of workshops as well. We will invite members or friends to put them on. We do a lot with our residents, such as Precious Plastic Shanghai. We also have Toky Makers, a STEAM education company. They teach people how to work with Information Learning Technology (ILT) stuff. Also lots of programming with Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design, soldering, sewing and liquid arts. Basically everything you can imagine. If someone can teach it, we will invite them to come and do a workshop. Even yoga sessions. And we do parties."

Alastair messes around with Wall-E, Toky Maker's educational robot toy.

"Pretty much everyone who joins Xinchejian wants to do something, and they are kind of an expert in a field of their own. They can learn from the community because they often find that when they are doing stuff, they often get into some new territory, but they are also and expert in their own area so they have things they can share too and allow everyone to develop."

James shows engraving the Smart Shanghai logo into wood, helped by a computer he built with spare parts from the bin.

What's the new space like, and why did you move there?

"Originally Xinchejian was on Changle lu, another place after that and then Jing'an. In January, because of the rent, we moved to the new place on the rooftop in Laoximen."

The spacious communal room. Home to Toky Maker, Precious Plastic Shanghai, the brew lab, and the all important ping pong table.

"As well as all our usual project rooms with all the machinery, the wood/metalwork and 3D printing and stuff, we've got a bar and a brew lab and we've just added a dark room for photography. We're working on a pottery space if we can work out the fire regulations."

Xinchejian's brand new dark room...

"Oh, and the space has a terrace and a kitchen!"

...and terrace.

Are there any events that people should expect?

"This weekend we have a 3D printing workshop and a rug making workshop. We're gonna put on some Laoximen city tours probably around the end of March. Laoximen is a pretty fascinating area. It's the old Chinese city of Shanghai and it used to be walled. Now where the wall was is the ring road, probably the only round-shaped road in Shanghai. Anyway, there is lots of history and interesting ways of life around here. We're talking about art festivals. And expect some brewing workshops. "

It's not all robots and homemade computers at Xinchejian.

How can someone join?

"Pretty easy, just pay the membership. 200rmb per month or 900rmb for half a year. Once you've got your membership, you're free to use everything. There are lots of maker's spaces out there that charge differently, often super high prices and separate charges for machine time. We minimize the cost for people to allow them to explore and have room for trial and error. Our prices haven't changed for about 7 years and we're proud of that."

Changbai has hacked a bunch of kids toys to make electronic music.

"Every month we do an open night so people can come and see what we're about. We find a topic and invite three different guests to share something they are working on. It's often related to the maker community but recently we've had a lot of artists at Xinchejian so sometimes the sharing is more related to art."

Xinchejian's newest 3D printer.

What's the best way to follow you?

"Wechat! We release everything on WeChat. We're also working on an open data platform so that people can find out what we're doing and help out. The whole thing is about Xinchejian is open source, remote co-working stuff. So we hope that people can use this when we put on an event and they can find some small ways to help out."

"Heyyyy you guys!"


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