The Cave

Hi All

As some of you might be aware the small enclosed room next to visual arts, known as the Cave, has now been cleared and a door has been fitted. The only outstanding infrastructure work required is for some new concrete to be poured at the doorway.

This means the area can start being worked on and turned into another ‘workshop’ for the space. A few ideas have been put forward already but since this area is a blank slate all ideas are welcome. The decision on how to proceed will likely be done via a vote at a future members meeting.

Ideas so far

  1. Dark Room
    For film processing

  2. Spray Painting Room
    Enclosed space to use spray paints / hang items for painting & drying

  3. Pottery Room
    Workspace with tools used to do pottery

  4. Kitchen
    Enclosed room that can be kept clean(er) for food

  5. Storage
    Used as storage for stuff the space rarely uses

  6. Lab / Science Room
    Where members can do experiments (Material & Bio) and store equipment (glassware)

  7. Library
    Quiet and clean(er) working space with bookshelves

I’ll update with additional information above the Cave such as its geometry & size, and photos to help give an idea off how much space we have available.

Okay so I’ve been able to get some relatively accurate dimensions for the Cave. I added it to the CAD .dwg plot plan of the space and created a PDF of just the Cave with dimensions so people can use it as a reference for planning out how to use the space. Jpeg version also included below, not sure which will work best.

Few things of note:
The Cave can be split in to two halves, simply named the front and rear. The front half as a solid ceiling (its the buildings main staircase) that is 2m from the floor.

The rear half has an open ceiling that extends up the building a couple floors. It is possible to see the toilet plumbing from the floors above, as well as a some large metal ducting. This ducting dips slightly into the rear half which making the lowest point 1.9m above the floor. Unsure what this ducting does but its heavy and I couldn’t ‘nudge’ it on my own.

The entrance to the cave has a hole in the concrete that is currently filled in with dirt and rubble. This will need filling in with fresh concrete though to ensure its solid a bit of the dirt and rubble will probably need digging out, it goes quite deep as I think its simply the ground under the main concrete floor of the space. Hoping someone with more experience can weight in on this.

Currently the only lighting in the Cave is by the EM light that is controlled by one of the two switches behind the door on the right. Depending on how the room is going to be used the lighting will be changed to suit. As it can be a bit dark please take care as there is still some stuff living in there. Pictures may look bright but that’s just my camera flash.

PDF file: Cave.pdf (35.0 KB)
Jpeg image:


bit late to this (sorry Mark) but just to put down in writing that I’m happy to “own” the small concreting job of the doorway. I’m a bit busy with work, so won’t have time for the next 2 weeks I suspect.

If anyone desperately wants to do it, I can talk you through it as it’s a simple enough job requiring minimal tools.

as regards the actual space, i am neutral as i don’t particularly need any more making space (!)

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That’s great, cheers!

People don’t need access to that area just yet so I don’t see a massive rush just when you have time.

I got some of that reinforcing coil stuff you put in mortars that might help the concrete similar to adding re-bar as well if you need some.

I note there is a step down so whatever we do we will want it sloped. Is the door wide enough for a wheelchair?

If we can’t make it accessible we are probably limited in what we can do.

If it is accessible, we could make kitchen area? It looks gross now but painted up all white, with a fake ceiling in where there’s that big space above might make a nice enclosed space to have a cooker and easy to isolate if there’s a fire!

Other than that, it really would be useful for storage especially if we could remove the big ducting and use the shelf. I know you don’t want it as storage but it would make the most sense for storing bits that aren’t often needed or building tools etc

I’ve edited the first post to add your two idea to the list.

As you can see on the drawing attached above the doorway is 720mm wide. According to a book I have on these things it lists doors requiring an opening of 32" (813mm) though I’d also note this is dependant on wheelchair designs. I think the harder part will be getting the slope shallow enough so that wheelchair uses can still get back up (yet to see someone get up the VA ramp manually). In addition to this the door height is quite low so raising the floor will make it even shorter which may be uncomfortable for our taller members

As for storage I’m very much against it, but if others think it’ll be beneficial then it wouldn’t take much work to implement. If you’re on about the ducting in the rear of the cave, I have no idea what its connected to, or if it still works, if a member wants to investigate to see if it can be removed I see no issue, but they must not do irreversible damage if it turns out it is still in use.

A quick google suggests that wheelchair slopes should be 1:12. I forgot to measure the step when I was in today, but it must be 4 or 6 inches, meaning the slope would have to be 4 or 6 feet into the room.

I’m not up on these things, but it the regulation that if we want it to be a useable part of the space, then it should be wheelchair accessible?

In terms of wheelchair access, would it be too narrow for that? I’m just thinking in terms of being able to turn around (do a 180) if something is fastened to the side of the wall at the same time.

One thought might be to put a server rack at the back then place the networking / servers there, outside of that I’m not sure what else it might be useful for.

For the current snackspace area we are painting that up at the moment a bit at a time, so hopefully that should be better than it was after a while in terms of food storage.

I’d be nervous about putting such electrical stuff there given the trainspotting loo is immediately above which has a lot of plumbing simply flapping in the breeze. If that leaks then it’s all damaged.

Ideally we would add a waterproof cover on top of whatever goes here or make everything showerproof

Proposal for the cave too be set up as a lab and dark room.
I’ve been working now for 6 months on independent research on synthetic seashell (nacra) synthesis and have acquired a selection of lab equipment and would like to setup the cave as a community lab space with focus on material science.
And long term goal of becoming bio secure 2.

The pandemic has hit research hard and people’s access to a lab for study and research is nearly impossible and being an to give back by means of a safe place for research would increase our services that can be offered to members.

I would aim to collaborate with other maker labs for education outreach,

I’ve been receiving help with another community BS2 lab called scihouse run by Gabriel lacina, who’s been Great help getting things up and running.

What it would involve would be thoroughly cleaned painted. Setting up desks and storage for glassware and equipment and lighting.
PPE would be goggles gloves and some extra lab coats,
. Etc

To install it the cave would have too be

  1. stripped clean and painted
  2. Install desks and cabinets.
  3. Fire suppression
  4. Waste management and cleaning
  5. Air filter and ventilation
  6. PPE gloves goggles coats and signage
  7. Allowed chemical
    Currently working with House hold chemicals and various food safe additives. Prepare for solvents etc.
  8. Locked storage for reagents
  9. A cool name

One setup it can facilitate other member project such as a dark room as a dark room is just a lab with a light proof door

a general purpose lab sounds great to me :slight_smile:
Be nice to have a place to go and mix some bits up in a clean environment :+1:
It would also be a great way to sort the chemicals trolley out - the IPA and Acetone could finally have a home rather than the floor of metalworking.

Ventilation seems easy enough to do.

  • the cave “ceiling” is a huge stone/concrete slab. Ducting, a fan, and a filter above this slab would push air into the cave from the main space without lowering headroom by the door.

    • For extraction it should be possible to route ducting along the wall and out by the green room.
    • We would need rules on what sort of fumes can and cannot be made :smiley: Dangerous fumes which could kill or severly injure people won’t be okay as the extraction will be a DIY effort.
  • for fire suppression will fire extinguishers work or would we need something automatic like those fire bottles that mount on the ceiling? If the latter we need to think about headroom and placement in line with manufacturer recommendations.

How it fits in with the space

  • Not sure what bio secure 2 means

  • A vitally important thing (above all else for me) is that if something is taking up space, it will need to be usable by the majority of members and can’t too exclusive to a few people. I’d push back on overly stringent training required (at least just for access), or it being restricted towards specific areas of research - it has to be mostly general purpose and work for the membership.

  • It likely will require basic training and rules:

    • Store chemicals sensibly, lids on, upright, in their place etc
    • Clean up after use
    • Know what mustn’t be done and what the limits are for the area
    • PPE for certain chemicals
    • List of permitted chemicals? In case someone brings in something reactive not knowingly?

Overall I think it’s a great idea, and will be really good to see that space come into use.

In regards to access for all rather than the few I couldn’t agree more. Luckily training for a BSL 1 is simple and easy BSL 2 is a long shot if it proves popular

This laboratory setting typically consists of research taking place on benches without the use of special equipment.

Mechanical pipetting only (no mouth pipetting allowed)
Safe sharps handling
Avoidance of splashes or aerosols
Daily decontamination of all work surfaces when work is complete
Hand washing
Prohibition of food, drink and smoking materials in lab setting
Personal protective equipment, such as; eye protection, gloves and a lab coat or gown
Biohazard signs

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I would have some concerns with this plan - the main ones are safety and waste.

There are a number of household chemicals that, whilst safe on their own, can cause significant problems when mixed either accidentally or intentionally. How do you plan on ensuring that they are not stored or mixed with each other? How do you plan on ensuring other chemicals that may be brought in are stored in appropriate locations?

What would you plan to do with the waste generated? Whilst some mixtures can (probably) be diluted and poured down the sink, there are many that can’t. What is the plan to deal with them without someone finding them tucked behind a cupboard when we next move?

I think it is potentially a good addition to the space, especially if it can be properly blacked out for photographic development and similar processes, but the plan currently seems to be “make it safe” without any more detail, and I would suggest a lot more thought will be needed before it would be safe to be in the space.

I remember this briefing from school!

Sounds good. Agree with Greg that we will need to address safety.

Could there be two lockers, one with “green list” chemicals (IPA, Acetone, Deionised water - and others, but all specifically listed and each marked as such) and one with “amber list” chemicals (which could cause an issue if mixed)?

(sorry for any PTSD caused by the govenments use of “green list” and “amber list” in terms of travel)

I’m aware we have bleach in the loo already and that if mixed with many other things could cause problems, so we would need a sensible threshold for what constitutes hazardous chemicals.

Good identification and proper labeling backed up by the MSDS info
Things as simple as I am a bottle of strong bleach do not mix me with acids wear a mask gloves goggles when sterilising surfaces. Etc…
Can go a long way to help people look after themselves and others

An essential part of maintaining a lab is to keep things documented this is a responsibility role not only just for People safety but for good protocol how do you know if something is not worked when you don’t know what you’ve done.

The industry standard does the have a lab notebook which can be added to akin to the the laser notebook

An Idea what the cave as a lab would look like

I checked the Concrete and that seems to have set now
For the locked storage you might find some small metal cabinets in the front next to snackspace that can have a padlock added to them
I think they may have ended up being too small for they’re original intended purpose (or at least I suspect thats why they’ve ended up there)

For a Microscope maybe something like this may be of interest

(basically 3d printed, but with commercial optics)

Given how small and cramped it might be I wonder if you might be better off targeting the front area next to snackspace with all the junk in
unless we’ve already decided on what we’re going to use that for (the last I heard was a shed of some description for sensory isolation)

The tall stack of 5 lockers which you can use a padlock on are not in use any more as far as I know so can go to the lab for storage if they are suitable

Maybe terrible idea but if we built the bar up to the ceiling, maybe with windows too, could that area become a lab? Taller and longer too.

I would vote for this space being used as Spray Painting Room, other idea would be part of the space could be used for sand blasting/metal polishing equipment.