Hack Hitchin

Making a Hackspace, part 7: coming out of our shell

15th Jun 2018

It’s been a busy couple of months. At the moment, our main focus is on getting the “office” side of the building up and running. This includes the toilet and tea-making area, as well as a general area for sitting down and doing the sort of stuff we do once a week at Ransom’s Rec. Once that’s out of the way, we’ll be moving on to the workshop.

All-a-board

Having previously completed the ceiling in the office side, we’ve turned our attention to the walls. Because of the enormous difficulty we encountered in trying to remove the old tiles, we’ve just overboarded the lot. This is now about 95% complete, with just a few bits left. We’ve also started on jointing the boards (wall and ceiling) to make a nice smooth surface. Or so the theory goes. Maybe in practice we’ll have to hang some strategically-placed artwork over the joins.

Plasterboard

Plasterboard on walls

More plasterboard

More plasterboard on the walls

Doors

For the last year or so, the only way in and out of the building has been to unlock one of the half-height doors in the hoarding and duck under. But now, we’ve fitted both the main door, and the fire escape door. Finally, we can walk into the building like people, not an early-human/monkey hybrid. The main door has a window so we can see who’s knocking, and opens inwards. The fire door opens outwards for emergency egress purposes, so we’ll need to be very careful about pedestrians when opening it, especially on occasions when the building is not on fire.

Door

Door, with the awful hoarding still in place behind it

Windows

Probably the second biggest or most obvious change we’ve made to the building is to replace the windows. The old windows, apart from being mostly broken, were a mixture of single-glazed wired glass, plastic and fibreglass. They let very little light in, and were not at all transparent. The new windows are double-glazed and the difference they’ve made is incredible.

For security, all the windows are made of laminated glass.

The old windows

The old windows

Old windows being removed

Old windows being removed

New side windows

New side windows

Office side, with new windows

Office side, with new windows

Workshop side, with new windows

Workshop side, with new windows

Leaving Stealth Mode

Up until now, we’ve mostly been operating in secret behind the hoarding that covers the front building. We’ve not exactly been hiding; we’re often approached by people who are interested in what we’re doing as we enter or leave the building, or work on the outside of it, but we have maintained the mural over the front.

We have now removed the mural elements (they are stored safely while we try and find a new home for them), and taken the boards down which covered the doors and the windows. It’s now very obvious that something is afoot in the old toilet block, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive comments we’ve received from passers-by about what we’re doing.

In fact, as far as I know, the only negative reaction is from someone who was disappointed to learn we weren’t opening a coffee shop.

Unstealthed

The front of the building with the hoarding removed from the doors and windows

What’s next?

  • The last few bits of plasterboard need to go up, including a bit of stud wall to divide the toilet from the rest of the office
  • Joint and paint the walls and ceiling
  • Put the lights up
  • Put power sockets in
  • Fit the tea area
  • Buy and fit the toilet
  • Buy and fit air conditioning
  • Lay some floor
  • Build a door between the office and the workshop
  • Move in and start using the building

So, there’s still enough to keep us busy for some time, but there’s a definite sense that we have at least reached the end of the beginning of the build.

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