Step inside the Olympian City shopping mall in Hong Kong and you’ll see a glossy, modern commercial center, with the same stores and outlets found in just about every mall around the globe.
As you reach the top of the escalator on the third floor, however, one element stands out — a standalone workshop/makerspace, containing 3D printers, electronics and soldering supplies, and even a well-filtered laser cutter.
The space is called OC STEM Lab, and its purpose is to utilize the location — situated directly below soaring residential towers and alongside a popular subway stop — to offer hands-on learning to a community that is hyper-focused on increasing technology-based opportunities to its younger generation.
The team showed me some of the projects its student volunteers have designed and built, including an Arduino-powered foosball-style soccer game and a laser-cut gumball machine. (They also showed these at Maker Faire Hong Kong, which they were a sponsor of.)
It’s not the first makerspace in a mall — makers in Thailand and Malaysia have both leveraged these popular destinations for ones of their own, as did the DC Techshop. But its integration into the mall infrastructure makes it feel like an integral part of the experience, and makes it feel… just right.
This is a trend I’d love to see continue. Activity spaces offering technology tools, right where the people are. This one comes with the support of sponsors, and is run by the marketing team of Olympian City. They’re proud of it, and very excited about the work that’s been produced since its launch last fall. They even use the mall’s massive atrium for various larger technology demos — robot competitions and so forth.
Travelers in Hong Kong should check this out for inspiration.