Watch this HACK/MAKE space


“We mix things and people, you wouldn’t think to mix; we create a connected network, engage the community, and skill people for future employment in emerging fields (2015 Townsville Start-Up weekend presentation).”

At the recent Start Up Weekend in Townsville a team of locals pitched an idea, based on an initial collaboration between some of the team members, called ‘Mix Haus’: a hack-make space for hybrid creators in Townsville. The team consisted of members from La Luna Youth Arts (Michelle Hall), James Cook and Queensland University of Technology (Justin Reid, Ally Lankester, Marcus Foth) and Townsville City Council (Allison Rosetto). Also included in the team were a business expert (Anthony Ditton) engineer (Graham Cheetham) and a graphic designer (Elisabeth Collier). Time was spent brainstorming the purpose of the space, type of space and potential users of the space. In discussing what the space might look like and include, we got inspired by looking at different spaces and ‘culture jamming’ activities in other places such as,,,,,,, http://www.trumanbrewery.com, and We also discussed the difference between maker and hacker spaces (Hawks & Ali-Haapala, 2015). We used the ‘start-up model’ to structure the pitch presentation. The ‘pitch’ presentation for the final evening, produced and given by Michelle Hall and Justin Reid (Mixhaus_PitchDeck_SUW15.pptx) involved: (1) purpose of the space (problem being solved)- to connect people in the community who are currently ‘hacking/making’ in personal and disconnected spaces and create and nurture a hub or ‘skunkworks’ (Foth, 2015) for people to share and learn new skills, create and design inventions and innovations, solve problems, create new ways of looking at the world, as well as foster a community of interaction and provide a regional opportunity for retaining and nurturing people and their expertise in the region for succession and sustainability; (2) description of space- a permanent hub/lab (open space, storage, benches, computers, kitchen, individual and collaborative spaces), pop up labs, mobile labs for taking to regional areas and a virtual interactive and learning platform with tutorials, projects in progress etc. for remote communities and schools to access; (3) activities and equipment- electronics, robotics, emerging technologies, art, design, software, firmware, sound, video, laser cutters, 3D printing; (4) potential users, supporters and mentors of the space (target market)- artists, university and school students, people with emerging or transitioning careers, robotics and other electronic-based clubs, JCar; and, (5) funding and membership- differentiated membership, grants, events, partners and the opportunity for residential programs and guerilla marketing. A survey has been designed to collect information from community members and potential users of the space. There have so far been responses from 31 people mostly between the ages of 25-45. Survey responses about what people would like to do and create in such a space include:

  • Virtual reality art exhibition
  • Use of technology like Microsoft Kinects and virtual reality headsets
  • Electronics and electronic projects
  • Urban design
  • Community and cross-generational engagement
  • Exciting social situations, being part of a creative digital community, Join with people and make products
  • App and web development
  • Simulation modelling
  • Community developed programing
  • Basic robotics
  • Policy ideas
  • Analytical frameworks
  • Digital business analysis
  • Social problem-solving using digital and disruptive approaches
  • New digital technology, including changing the way we use technology and taking technology apart and making things work in a different way
  • Sensor objects
  • Music midi interfaces, movies, short films and videos
  • Interactive, experimental new media art projects
  • Home automation
  • Photography
  • Graphics & design
  • Software development
  • Digital privacy workshops
  • Collaboration across sectors, between IT/Arts people, researchers, artists and musicians from other areas
  • Machining
  • Online platform and associated mobile phone apps that cater toward creative designers
  • Experimentation in the UAV space- continuously customise (rebuild after a crash) quad copter in many interesting ways and building more complex designs and experiments
  • Practical products/ performances/ installations/ art that connects people in the community, gets them talking to each other about innovative digital work and how Townsville can grow and become more creatively connected to other people and places
  • Data aggregators, apps, prototype environmental sensor housings (Arduino), robotics applications for horticulture, health related projects, tropical house design and management systems
  • Collaborative media art, tag in system- someone starts a project and someone else takes over and continues until a specified- the final result is not necessarily discussed
  • Puppet related media art, integrating puppets, actors, local musicians, digital backgrounds to create and present stories about relevant issues across the Townsville region to share virtually
  • Interactive books and narratives, innovative ways of publishing digitally, place-based stories and games, virtual museums
  • 3D animation, 3D projection mapping on large structures (buildings etc.)
  • Open source data mining
  • 3D printing art
  • Idea factory
  • Turning walls into smart surfaces, Art board/RSS board and Trello mind mapping

The skills and expertise people said they could share with others in the space include:

  • Photoshop
  • Video-capture, video and film editing, videography
  • Storytelling, story/script/idea development
  • Visionary thinking, lateral thinking skills
  • Experienced at working with multidisciplinary teams to drive innovation
  • Programming, modelling, financials, strategy work, analysis and professional development support
  • Wildlife information/images
  • Music production and composition
  • Electronics
  • Software development, web creation and programming, mobile applications
  • Software engineer, digital security and privacy hacking
  • Development and electronics skills (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Atmel, computer controlled gadgetry)
  • Motion design
  • Cabinet-maker, carpentry and sign writing
  • Science and business expertise
  • Visual art design and curation, digital art
  • Digital integration, facilitation, community development, strategic panning and connecting people
  • Lighting, sound and set design skills
  • Photography
  • ICT knowledge and skills
  • UX design and creation of accessible digital spaces
  • 3D animation and mapping
  • Teaching/tutoring and research
  • Writing, proof reading and editing skills
  • Puppet creation
  • Event and business management, promotion and marketing in social media

Survey responses to the question about what skills people were looking to acquire include:

  • Collaboration and social networking skills
  • A greater understanding of real world problems
  • Tech ‘know how’
  • Magic, 3D product design
  • Photography
  • Design skills, including graphic and digital design
  • Machining
  • App and web development
  • Electronics, digital and technical skills
  • Coding/development, (low level C) programming
  • Financial management
  • Commercialisation and investment attraction
  • Interactive books and designing games
  • Digital media and mapping
  • Photo shop
  • Music production
  • Video and sound editing

People thought that the space would need the following equipment:

  • Computers with Adobe software, internet connection
  • Next-gen gadgetry like 360 video cameras and virtual reality headsets
  • Workshop kit
  • Comfy chairs, couches, tables, benches, moveable tables, prototyping boards and kit, whiteboards, high speed internet, lots of different stimuli (art, music, books etc.) and excited people
  • Video cameras, editing equipment, computers
  • 3D software, 3D printers, musical instruments, couches, coffee makers,
  • Computer lab
  • Plasma cutting/laser cutting, CNC milling
  • Electronics
  • Fully specs workstation computers with the latest firmware updates of software used by creative industries
  • Digital art
  • Emerging technologies
  • Firmware-codings-Raspberry Pi and Aduino systems, Zigbee designs
  • Video and sound equipment
  • Prototyping hardware, interactive topographic 3d maps, robotics and IOT

Following the weekend, La Luna has taken the idea by the reins in working with local institutions and communities to make the space come alive and have long term sustainability. Please share your interest, thoughts and ideas on developing a space like this in Townsville by commenting on this blog and/or filling in the survey:

By Ally Lankester


Foth, M. (2015). Australia needs an innovation ‘skunkworks’. Retrieved from

Hawks, M., & Ali-Haapala, A. (2015). Makerspaces: Literature Review. QUT Library: Queensland University of Technology.






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