While some banks are closing their high streets branches and selling them on, Barclays has decided to take a different approach, turning them into creative hubs instead.
Barclays says the Eagle Labs, as these spaces are known, “provide workspaces and tools to help you create, innovate and grow your business or idea.”
There are currently three Maker Spaces in the UK, which are places where members of the public can come in to use equipment, and two Incubators, which are billed as being workspaces for fast-growing companies.
The Maker Space in Brighton opened in March in a beautiful building in the London Road area. There are multiple desks for hire at very reasonable rents because, as digital lab manager Brian Sharkey explained, the new service is not looking to make a profit. Behind the desks is a Roland DG vinyl cutter and heat press, while downstairs, near the huge, heavy doors of the old vaults is a secondhand wide format printer that lab manager Jon Paterson explained was given to them from Fab Lab in London.
There is also a photography studio being set up in one of the vaults, an embroidery machine is on order, and a 3D printer and laser cutter along with other bits of equipment are in the workroom on the ground floor. Conference rooms are also available to hire, but the main draw of the place is the opportunity for those thinking of getting into creative industries to come and experiment first with a variety of equipment.
All the equipment can be booked by the hour, with free tours and inductions available on Fridays.
It’s far removed from the bank branch that used to be at this site – we’re betting that none of the cashiers had a mohawk similar to Jon’s – but it’s an exciting project that could provide some welcome support to anybody thinking of starting out in garment decoration.