Designing Place - Topologies of Maker Labs

Rashof, Sascha. 2016. Designing Place - Topologies of Maker Labs. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This PhD thesis is working towards a techno-social ontology of ‘place/s’. Place [topos] has been an underdeveloped concept in modern philosophical thought in ‘the West’, generally subordinated to the more universalising notions of time and space. Also media theory has often used conceptions of time as its primary category due to its foundation on notions of ‘process’. Even though media theory and geography are increasingly converging, however predominantly through conceptions of ‘space’, considerable ontological treatments of medial place are still missing. In order to develop a notion of place/s that is more singular and pluralistic than the (spatial) ‘rhizome’, which has now largely become the logic of post-Fordism, this thesis works with Peter Sloterdijk’s topo-logy of Spheres – through, with, beyond and against Martin Heidegger’s ontology. Against Sloterdijk’s own conception of Spheres as ‘Being and Space’, the trilogy is here systematically read as ‘Being and Place’. Furthermore, it is not conceived as universalising representation of Being/s, but as singularly de-constructing itself in the world – via ‘maker labs’, i.e. meso-scale collaborative work-places where humans cohabit with/in technological systems to produce and share ‘open designs’ for local needs. Through a media-phenomenological approach close to the ‘spherology’, as well as the conception of ‘organised networks’ (Rossiter, Lovink et al.), three of these labs are explicated through their singular organisation/s of place: Vigyan Ashram, an experimental rural development college in Pabal (India) where school dropouts learn to design predominantly agricultural hardware and the ‘natural’ environment for local (survival) needs; the London Hackspace, a community-run hacker space where tinkerers make open designs primarily in their spare time for experience value by sharing tools and knowledge; betahaus Berlin, a co-working space functioning as mix of coffee house, home office, R&D lab, university, hacker space, carpentry workshop and start-up incubator. The thesis concludes by pointing out the limitation of Spheres as (philosophical) anthropology.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This is an edited version of the thesis, with third party copyright material removed.


place, topology, maker labs, Sloterdijk, Spheres, Heidegger, media philosophy, organised networks

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


31 August 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Sep 2016 15:19

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:56


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